R&D

Cémoi to up R&D spend as it inaugurates cocoa research hub

20-Dec-2013 - By Oliver Nieburg+
Cémoi CEO Patrick Poirrier (right) opens new R&D center with Ivorian Minister of Agriculture Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly (center)
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Leading French private label chocolatier Cémoi has opened a new R&D center and plans to increase its research budget by 50% until 2016.

In an opening ceremony yesterday, attended by the Ivorian Minister of Agriculture Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly, the company opened the doors to its 120 m² center at its headquarters in Perpignan, France.

Cémoi manufactures chocolate for leading French supermarkets and suppliers manufacturers with cocoa ingredients. It also sells its own brands such as Cémoi and Jacquot.

The company invested over €1m ($1.4m) to construct the center over its former production site, which moved to another location near Perpignan in 2008.

The new R&D center will be home to 70 employees including five new faces.

Research to cater to specific tastes: Cémoi has developed over a dozen products specifically for Ivorian consumers through its Pupier brand.

During a tour of the center, Cémoi told ConfectioneryNews that the facility would be dedicated to cocoa research, conducting experiments on roasting and blending techniques to deepen the company’s knowledge.

Characterizing Nacional cacao

Cémoi will research unique cocoa origins such as Ecuador, Dominican Republic and Madagascar.

The research team plans to distinguish prized Nacional cacao bean varieties from Ecuador through the COCOtA project with support from the French government and a partnership with research lab Phylogène.

The COCOtA program will also develop a rapid cocoa bean test kit through a partnership with Domitia University of Perpignan.

Cémoi sources 80% of its cocoa from the Ivory Coast. A third of its workforce is also present in the country at the firm’s cocoa processing plant in Abidjan and an industrial packaging facility in San Perdro. Ivorian politician Coulibaly said that the moment had come for France to be interested in Africa and to start investing again, particularly given his country’s young population.

Cémoi president and CEO Patrick Poirrier said that the industry was fortunate to have a developing market, but said that farmer’s needed to be offered a vision to grow cocoa to secure chocolate’s future. Ivorian Agriculture Minister Coulibaly said that the responsibility to raise yields rested with producers rather than chocolatiers.

Research areas and test plant

In Cémoi’s R&D lab, researchers plan to explore the behavior of cocoa masses and the color of cocoa powders to adapt products to particular markets. The R&D team will also study fermentation to help develop desired aromas.

The center includes a test-scale plant, allowing the firm to trial its theories on a mini-industrial scale. Here the researchers can assess the impact of processing stages such as tempering to find optimum operating temperatures.

The center features a tasting lab for sensory analysis, which uses the company’s Pantarôme system to describe product samples. Pantarôme is a handheld chart that helps users to identify aroma characters of cocoa masses, enabling them to choose which blends of cocoa beans best match the desired flavor for their product.

The new R&D facility will serve Cémoi’s 14 production sites.

Cémoi quality and R&D Manager Jean-Marc Laurens talk about his vision for the center HERE.

Related topics: Premium, R&D, Chocolate, Cocoa & Sugar