Sinterklaas is somewhat delayed this year. At least as far as the chocolate is concerned. The salmonella contamination at the largest chocolate factory in the world – in Wieze in East Flanders – ensures that the delicacies will be in the shops later. Lovers of Mikado and Pims biscuits will also have to keep their hunger for a while.
Arthur De Meyer
Today at 05:00
Panic at the end of June at Barry Callebaut. Salmonella had been detected in a batch of chocolate produced at the Wieze factory. The largest production facility on earth, of course. Everything was immediately shut down. Hundreds of tons of chocolate had to be destroyed. All production lines were cleaned and disinfected. At the beginning of August – after being shut down for six weeks – the factory started up again. “But they are far from being at full capacity,” said spokesman Korneel Warlop. “That is still a process of a few weeks.”
Barry Callebaut is a producer of what you might call ‘basic chocolate’. In liquid form, or in blocks or pastilles, Callebaut supplies other manufacturers who then process the Belgian chocolate into pralines, bars and also Santa Claus figures. “Normally we start selling Sinterklaas chocolate at the beginning of October,” says Roel Dekelver of Delhaize, but our largest supplier has announced that they have experienced a delay.” The same story at Colruyt. “According to our information, Barry Callebaut is gradually resuming deliveries,” said spokesman Silja Decock. “All our suppliers are doing everything they can to catch up as quickly and as much production as possible, but it is possible that some St. Chocolates will be available a little later.”
Pims and Mikado
Lovers of Pims biscuits and Mikado may also encounter empty racks in the coming weeks. “Pims is produced in our factory in Herentals”, says Annick Verdegem of Mondelez. “It was shut down for a while because Callebaut was unable to supply ‘couverture chocolate’. That’s the thin layer on the cookies.”
The Pims are indeed sold out here and there, but the supermarkets point out that they have an alternative of their own brand available for those cookies. “For Mikado, the problems are bigger. This is produced in our French factory in Cestas,” says Verdegem. And that’s where contaminated chocolate ended up on the production lines this summer. “The cleaning and disinfection operation is still ongoing. This involves kilometers of pipes and pipes that must be dismantled and thoroughly cleaned. This will take a few more weeks.”
Mikado is ‘missing’ at Delhaize, Colruyt also indicates that the stock is running out.