Gertrude Hawk division buyer to keep production here

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David Hawk, chairman of the board of Gertrude Hawk Chocolates, stands next to a large pan machine used to make ingredients at Gertrude Hawk Chocolates. Times-Tribune File Photo

By Borys Krawczeniuk

Barry Callebaut, the company buying Gertrude Hawk Chocolates’ top-earning division, loves the Dunmore company and won’t move the division’s production elsewhere, a spokesman for the Swiss-based company said recently.

Speaking by telephone from Switzerland, Christiaan Prins, Barry Callebaut head of external affairs, declined to confirm any future expansion plans for the ingredients division, but did not dispute the possibility.

“I cannot speculate on future investments,” Prins said. “What we can say is that the production site is there to stay in Scranton. It’s extremely specialized and it will be integrated into our manufacturing network and the employees of Gertrude Hawk ingredients will be integrated into Barry Callebaut ... We have no interest in moving.”

The ingredients division employs about 370 people who will keep their jobs, Barry Callebaut said.

The company, which bills itself as the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products, announced Sept. 7 it would buy Gertrude Hawk’s existing plant in the Keystone Industrial Park this month for an undisclosed price. Gertrude Hawk chairman and co-owner David Hawk said Barry Callebaut — which occasionally sold Gertrude Hawk cocoa products to make chocolate — will probably expand production there and create an unspecified number of new jobs. Hawk said the sales agreement requires the plant to stay open here.

The ingredients division makes small peanut butter cups and specialty chocolate that ice cream and snack food manufacturers insert into their products. Started in 1994 as a way of keeping the plant busy during the summer, the division represents two-thirds of Gertrude Hawk’s annual revenues, Hawk said.

Gertrude Hawk plans to move production of its other chocolate products into its nearby warehouse, build new administrative offices next to it and keep operating as always.

Hawk said Barry Callebaut pursued the ingredients division for more than two years before the two companies signed a purchase agreement Sept. 6.

Prins said the ingredients division buy dovetails with Barry Callebaut’s purchase earlier this year of D’Orsogna Dolciaria, an Italian company that supplies bakery ingredients.

“This acquisition (of Gertrude Hawk) will strategically expand Barry Callebaut’s specialties and decorations business, in particular in North America,” the company said in its news release announcing the sale.

Prins said Gertrude Hawk “became a leader in the ingredients market with extremely specialized capabilities.”

“You do not become a leader for nothing,” he said. “If you look at the customers that they have, it is absolutely impressive.”

Borys Krawczeniuk is a Times-Tribune staff writer.

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