As part of the deal, Barry Callebaut said it will retain ownership of the Van Houten brand but license the Van Houten brand name and trademarks to Hershey for use in the sale of consumer products in Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
Barry Callebaut will also continue to use the brand in its gourmet and vending mix business worldwide.
Maurizio Decio, Barry Callebaut president, Asia-Pacific, said: “This divestiture will allow Barry Callebaut to focus entirely on our business with industrial and gourmet customers in Asia and the Middle East, which is our core business.
“The growth markets of Asia are a prime target for us that we want to develop fast in order to benefit from the first-mover effect.”
The deal follows a series of moves by the Zurich-based company into Asia as a company spokeswoman, Gaby Tschofen, said Barry Callebaut had “broadened its footprint” and now had a presence in China, Malaysia and Japan, as well as Singapore.
She told ConfectioneryNews.com: “We are leveraging on our current presence in Asia.
“The focus of our business is on business-to-business activities with industrial and artisanal customers, not consumers.
“Asia overall is important because it is one of the growth markets in the world.
“When we look at per capita chocolate consumption it is still very low, especially when compared to the traditional chocolate markets of Western Europe.
“This is why geographical expansion is an essential element of our strategy.”
Tschofen said it was important to be close to its customers because of costs such as shipping and also because it put the company in a position to better understand the markets they operate in.
She said that different markets have different taste preferences and Barry Callebaut has about 1,700 different recipes to cater for them. She added that there was not one Asia taste but in Japan, for example, consumers tended to prefer dark chocolate, while in China they prefer milk chocolate.
According to Euromonitor International, the chocolate confectionary market in Malaysia, for example, has increased from US$83m in 2002 to $100m in 2007 with growth forecast to increase 17 percent between 2007 and 2012.
In Indonesia the market was worth $186m in 2002 but shot up to $541m in 2007. Growth there over the same five year period is put at 67 percent.
Van Houten Singapore
Founded in 1990, Van Houten Singapore employs a staff of five people and develops and markets consumer chocolate products throughout Asia. Fiscal 2007/08 sales revenue was approximately $20m (€15.5m).
The two parties did not disclose financial details of the transaction.
Ted Jastrzebski, senior vice president, president Hershey International, said: “This transaction continues Hershey’s global strategy of entering growth markets through acquisitions and partnerships.”