Cargill is all about making connections – farmers with markets, customers with ingredients, and people and animals with food. Employing 1,300 people through its eight Belgian locations, the company has invested in solving some of the most significant challenges in food and agriculture. This includes grain and oilseeds processing, and the production and sale of food ingredients such as edible oils, starches, sweeteners, texturizers and chocolate. The company’s research and development center for Europe is also located in Vilvoorde.
Cargill Izegem site in West Flanders
Cargill has invested heavily in Belgium: over €85 million in the past 10 years. Recent investments include a €17.5 million investment in 2018 its Izegem site in West Flanders, to upgrade its refinery, increase production capacity and to provide a safe and reliable supply of high-quality food and infant nutrition oil for its customers. Cargill has also invested over €50 million in its Mouscron chocolate factory, doubling the plant’s capacity in 2013, adding a new liquid chocolate production line in 2018 and introducing sugar-reduced capabilities in 2019.
Many of the company’s innovations are born out of the European research & development center in Vilvoorde, which hosts 170 scientists from 20+ different nationalities focusing on research and product development for Cargill’s broad range of food, feed and industrial ingredients and their application performance. For example, they take learnings from Cargill’s experience with food ingredients and textures and implement them in products for skin or hair care.
Some of the projects Cargill’s R&D scientists are working on include new plant proteins for vegan foods based on pea proteins and new developments on Cargill’s natural Stevia sweeteners such as ViaTechTM. Others include innovative starches and natural emulsifiers based on lecithin, and micronized wheat bran to act as a low calorie bulking agent to reduce sugar.
André van der Wulp, European R&D Director & Site Director of Cargill’s European R&D Center, explains, “Cargill’s Vilvoorde R&D team is continuously investing in new capabilities. Our most recent project is a new Culinary Experience Hub with a new kitchen, bakery and frying lab that will open up the option of co-creating products with our customers in a swift and efficient way – to be able to respond instantly to new market trends.”
The Cargill Cares Council in Belgium donates on average €75,000 per year to organizations such as Koning Boudewijnstichting, Vredeseilanden, Stichting tegen Kanker, Rode Kruis, Special Olympics and many other smaller, local associations. Cargill’s employee and family volunteers offer hundreds of hours of their time and talent to help build sustainable communities where we live and work.