olam food ingredients turns cocoa shells into power to fuel factory

Two circular biomass boilers have entered operation at olam food ingredients’ (ofi’s) cocoa processing factories in the Netherlands and Germany, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


The boilers use cocoa shells, a by-product of the production process, as fuel to generate steam, which in turn powers the crafting of cocoa ingredients from ofi’s premium brand, deZaan, at its factories in Koog aan de Zaan, Netherlands, and in Mannheim, Germany – where it believes it will be the first cocoa shell boiler of its kind in the country.


The boiler at Koog aan de Zaan was partly funded by a subsidy from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and took over four years from concept to completion. It will reduce natural gas usage and COemissions at the facility by 50%. In 2022 alone, ofi used 8,000 tons of residual cocoa shells to generate green energy equivalent to using 3.4 million cubic meters of natural gas, helping cut absolute COemissions at the facility by 23%. This is the equivalent of warming over 3,0001 Dutch houses per year.


The second boiler at ofi’s factory in Mannheim has been developed through a joint venture with energy company MVV. It has the potential to provide up to 90% of the steam needed to power the facility, saving approximately 8,000 tons of CO2 annually. The new roll-out adds to the circular biomass shell boilers used in ofi cocoa factories in Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire, Indonesia, and Singapore.


This latest move forms part of ofi’s ambition for sustainable cocoa, Cocoa Compass, which sets ambitious goals – including a 30% reduction in natural capital costs2 by 2030. In 2021, ofi reduced these costs in its global cocoa processing operations by 11% per metric ton of product output, partly thanks to its network of biomass shell boilers and other initiatives such as green electricity and solar panels.



1 The number of homes is calculated based on the average home consumption by EnergieNed.
2 Natural capital costs/accounting follows a holistic systems approach to understanding the true value of nature, people, and society for humans. The economy must be recognized as parts within a deeply interconnected global system and addressed together to deliver value across the capitals. It is an approach to measure the changes in the stock of natural capital at a variety of scales and to integrate the value of ecosystem services into accounting and reporting systems.

Susanne Folkerts, Global Operations Head of Sustainability & Environment, ofi said:

"We’re taking action to protect the planet and unlock value for our customers so that they can offer their consumers more sustainable choices. From the support we give to farmers worldwide to how we turn their cocoa into high-quality ingredients in our processing factories. These innovative boilers are key in reducing scope 1 and 2 emissions3 and making our Cocoa Compass ambition real. We’re also playing our part to accelerate the climate agenda of the EU Green Deal, in which moving to a more circular economy is fundamental. We’re thrilled to have been recognized by the Dutch government as a sustainability innovation leader and hope that other manufacturing businesses are inspired to invest in circular biomass as part of their decarbonization journeys."



Scope 1 covers direct emissions from owned or controlled sources. Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the purchase and use of electricity, steam, heating and cooling. From the Carbon Trust

David van Baarle, Industrial Sustainability Specialist, The Netherlands Enterprise Agency, (Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland, RVO) said:

ofi has demonstrated how making the most of by-products can lead to significant CO2 savings. By developing a biomass boiler that uses its own cocoa shells to power the production of its deZaan cocoa ingredients, it is setting an inspiring example for other industrial companies. We are therefore grateful that ofi is giving its industry peers the opportunity to follow its example.”

Ralf Klöpfer, Sales Director at MVV Energie AG said:

"This circular biomass boiler has set a strong example of how companies can decarbonize their operations. Implementing this feat of engineering, together with ofi, was not without its challenges; however, it has been worthwhile to support our vision for a climate-neutral future by 2040 and break new ground in the process. MVV is committed to becoming one of the first energy companies in Germany to be #climatepositive. With our Mannheim model, we can support our customers in realizing their sustainability goals, which is why we are particularly pleased to have been able to partner with ofi on this circular biomass initiative."

About ofi

ofi (olam food ingredients) is a new operating group born out of Olam. ofi offers sustainable, natural, value-added food products and ingredients so that consumers can enjoy the healthy and indulgent products they love. It consists of industry-leading businesses of cocoa, coffee, dairy, nuts, and spices. ofi has built a unique global value chain presence including its own farming operations, farm-gate origination, and manufacturing facilities. ofi partners with customers, leveraging its complementary and differentiated portfolio of ‘on-trend’ food products, to co-create solutions that anticipate and meet changing consumer preferences as demand increases for healthier food that’s traceable and sustainable. To subscribe to the ofi newsroom, please visit News & Events (privacy statement here). If you do not wish to receive information from ofi please contact media@ofi.com.


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About Olam Group

Olam Group is a leading food and agri-business supplying food, ingredients, feed and fibre to 20,900 customers worldwide. Its value chain spans over 60 countries and includes farming, processing and distribution operations, as well as a global network of farmers. By re-imagining global agriculture and food systems, Olam Group aims to address the many challenges involved in meeting the needs of a growing global population, while achieving positive impact for farming communities, our planet and all our stakeholders. Headquartered and listed in Singapore, Olam Group currently ranks among the top 30 largest primary listed companies in terms of market capitalisation on SGX-ST. Since June 2020, Olam Group has been included in the FTSE4Good Index Series, a global sustainable investment index series developed by FTSE Russell, following a rigorous assessment of Olam’s supply chain activities, impact on the environment and governance transparency. The FTSE4Good Index Series identifies companies that demonstrate strong Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices and is used by a variety of market participants to create and assess responsible investment funds. More information on Olam can be found at www.olamgroup.com. Follow @olam.

Contacts for ofi cocoa communications

Emma Blinkhorn

Head of Cocoa Communications, ofi


+44 (0)7774334735


Jemma Ralphs

Cocoa Communications Lead, ofi