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The Goemaere family: 110 years of chocolate (08/06/2010)

Chocolaterie Goemaere

Michel Goemaere, our commercial director for chocolate, didn’t plan to go into the chocolate business. But how could he do otherwise? After all, his family have been making chocolate for four generations.

It all started in Ghent, in 1900, when Michel’s great-grandfather began making fine chocolate. In 1947 Michel’s father, Albert Goemaere, took over. In 1973, feeling he needed the know-how of a larger partner, he sold the business to Cacao Barry. He stayed on, retiring in 1991 as MD of Chocolaterie Goemaere.

Michel studied civil engineering, but the lure of the family business was too strong. He went to work for his father in 1983. In 1997, when Cacao Barry merged with Callebaut, he and several colleagues started a new firm, OCG.

‘Setting up a new company against such large and well-established competitors was challenging, but very exciting. Within six years we had four factories: Rouen, Worksop in the UK, Mouscron and the historic Antwerp plant, which we bought from Nestlé in 1998,’ he recalls.

In 2003 Michel decided, like his father before him, to seek the support of a larger firm. OCG joined Cargill, and Michel hasn’t looked back. ‘They have given me the freedom to run things and the room to develop and create. And I enjoy working with colleagues across other Cargill businesses, making use of the company’s breadth of knowledge.’

Michel adds that his young son is now showing an interest in his work. Are chocolate and the Goemaeres meant for each other? Michel says, ‘I think chocolate is in our blood.’

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