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Chicago Chocolate Firm Lures Olam, Fuji Oil Interest

A sample of liquid cocoa product, heated to 65 degrees celsius, sits in a test tray after collection from a storage tank at a plant which makes cocoa products for Russian chocolate makers in Ozery, Russia.

(bloomberg)

(Bloomberg) -- Blommer Chocolate Co. has attracted interest from at least two Asian companies as North America’s top cocoa processor considers a sale, according to people familiar with the matter.

Singapore-based Olam International Ltd. and Japan’s Fuji Oil Holdings Inc. have expressed interest in the iconic Chicago company, said the people, who asked not to be identified because talks are private. Olam is already a major supplier of cocoa beans to Blommer while Fuji Oil sells edible fats to the company.

Blommer, whose plant emits a chocolate scent in parts of downtown Chicago, is one of the last large independent cocoa grinders in a consolidating global market. A spokesman for Fuji Oil said it can’t comment, while Olam didn’t immediately provide a comment. Blommer didn’t respond to calls and an email.

Olam bought Archer-Daniels-Midland Co.’s cocoa business for $1.2 billion in 2015, making it the third-largest cocoa processor. World No. 1 processor Barry Callebaut AG acquired Petra Foods for $950 million in a deal that closed in 2013.

Buying Blommer would give Olam a bigger presence in North America and sales to Mars Inc., maker of M&M’s and Snickers, the people said. For Fuji Oil, the purchase would safeguard its business with Blommer. The Japanese company is the largest producer of edible fats and also has a confectionery and bakery-ingredients business that sells everything from couverture to ganache.

Blommer is a third-generation family business founded by Henry Blommer Sr. and two brothers in 1939. The company has been expanding in recent years, with a $40 million acquisition of a plant in Jinshan, China, in 2016 and the introduction of new brand Founders Reserve. It also has a joint venture with Olam focused on cocoa sustainability in Ivory Coast and Indonesia.

--With assistance from Masumi Suga.

To contact the reporters on this story: Isis Almeida in Chicago at ialmeida3@bloomberg.net;Kiel Porter in New York at kporter17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tina Davis at tinadavis@bloomberg.net, James Attwood, Simon Casey

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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