January 23/Decatur, Ill./PRNewswire-FirstCall/-- Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) announced the signing of an agreement to purchase Schokinag-Schokolade-Industrie Herrmann GmbH & Co. KG, one of Europe's leading producers of chocolate and cocoa powder. The purchase is subject to approval by relevant antitrust authorities.

ADM is a global supplier of cocoa and chocolate ingredients, serving customers in the confectionery, bakery, dairy and other food industries with a range of quality cocoa powders, cocoa liquors and cocoa butters, as well as chocolate and compound confectionery products.

"This acquisition will be an excellent fit for our business as we continue to enhance our global presence across the entire cocoa and chocolate value chain. The expertise of the people, the tradition of quality represented in Schokinag and the scope of the physical assets make our acquisition an important step in positioning ADM to become the preferred supplier of cocoa and chocolate solutions for European customers," said Mark Bemis, vice president, ADM Cocoa and Milling.

ADM Cocoa, best known for its premium De Zaan, Ambrosia, Merckens and Unicao brands of cocoa and chocolate products, is already a leading industrial chocolate manufacturer in North America. In 2006, it acquired the assets of Classic Couverture Ltd., a U.K.-based chocolate manufacturer for the business-to-business market. More recently, the company opened a new cocoa and chocolate manufacturing plant in Hazleton, Pa., and is completing a new cocoa processing facility in Kumasi, Ghana.

"ADM's acquisition of Schokinag will strengthen our position in Europe, the world's largest chocolate market," said Scott Walker, managing director, ADM Cocoa International. "By integrating Schokinag into our cocoa business, we will better serve this steadily growing chocolate market and realize significant efficiencies in sourcing, operations and transportation."

Schokinag, headquartered in Mannheim, Germany, manufactures chocolate and other cocoa products in Mannheim and in Manage, Belgium; and has sales offices in Ludlow, U.K.; and Bakersfield, Calif.

"For the people of Schokinag and for our customers, I see this as a great opportunity," said Hans Hermann, owner and chief executive of Schokinag. "ADM Cocoa's global strengths in sourcing and processing, combined with Schokinag's long tradition and service to European and global chocolate markets, are a combination that is a good foundation for future growth for our employees, our valued customers and the Mannheim community."

From the February 2, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition