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Malaysia’s GCB shakes up competition for Côte d’Ivoire cocoa

By Baudelaire Mieu

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Posted on August 4, 2023 08:52

jad20230724-eco-civ-usine-gcb-1256×628-1690276377 © The GCB Côte d’Ivoire plant, inaugurated on 21 July, has 314 employees, 80% of whom are Ivorians. Twitter Tiémoko Meyliet Koné
The GCB Côte d’Ivoire plant, inaugurated on 21 July, has 314 employees, 80% of whom are Ivorians. Twitter Tiémoko Meyliet Koné

Malaysian company Guan Chong Berhad has inaugurated a cocoa bean grinding plant in San Pedro, in the west of Côte d’Ivoire. Its production capacity is set to grow rapidly.

Malaysian company Guan Chong Berhad (GCB) has been operating discreetly since 2018 and has reached a new stage in its Ivorian business. On 21 July, Ivorian Vice President Tiémoko Meyliet Koné travelled to San Pedro, the country’s second-largest city, to inaugurate the Malaysian giant’s crushing plant.

With this first crushing unit, with a capacity of 60,000 tonnes, GCB is competing with the multinationals that have historically operated in the country, such as the American Cargill West Africa, the Indo-Singaporean Olam, the Swiss Barry Callebaut, and the French Touton and Cémoi.

While crushing tests were carried out last June, operations had not started. Investment in San Pedro is estimated at CFA46bn (just over $106.5m), with the aim of doubling production to 120,000 tonnes by 2024 and increasing it to 240,000 tonnes within five years, for a total investment of CFA53bn.

Closing the gap

“We chose Côte d’Ivoire because it is the world’s leading cocoa-producing country, with 2.4 million tonnes in the 2022-2023 season,” said Brandon Tay Hoe Lian, CEO of the Asian company. “We want to supply our customers from Côte d’Ivoire.”

Malaysia produces only 100,000 tonnes of cocoa annually, while its domestic market needs 350,000 tonnes. The company’s aim is to close this gap gradually.

Operations in the US

GCB is a family business founded in 1981. It launched its first 1,200-tonne cocoa processing unit in 1985 in Malaysia. In 1991, GCB expanded its capacity to 11,000 tonnes. In 2005, following its listing on the Bursa Malaysia, the company entered the US market with the acquisition of 49% of Carlyle Cocoa.

The family group, which also processes cocoa into finished products (drinks, chocolate bars, etc.), has operations in Singapore, Indonesia, Germany, and the UK. The company comprises three subsidiaries: Guan Chong Cocoa Manufacturer (GCCM), Guan Chong Trading (GCT), and Enrich Mix (EM).

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