Behind the sweet taste of chocolate: who won't warm their hands around a nice cup of cocoa or bite into a sweet chocolate bar at the bottom of a ski slope this winter? Few, however, tend to think of the chocolate's origins. Even fewer realise that whatever chocolate they are consuming could well be traced back to only one company--the relatively unknown, Swiss-based Barry Callebaut.

Author:Hancock, Julia
Position:BUSINESS
 
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Yes, believe it or not, whether you have handed over a small fortune to pay for a delightful-but-minute box of artisan-made truffles or just picked up a bar of standard milk chocolate, chances are that its core ingredients originate with Barry Callebaut, the world's biggest chocolate maker.

The 150-year-old multinational is the world's leading manufacturer of high-quality cocoa, chocolate and confectionary products. Sprawling across 23 countries, it employs some 8,500 people, purchases around 15 per cent of the world's cocoa harvest and generates sales of more than SFr 4.0 billion.

Across the world, Barry Callebaut's employees buy cocoa beans, turn them into chocolate and sell the results. Depending on the customer--multinational food manufacturers or artisans--the final product can be anything from cocoa powder, liquid chocolate in vats or delicate little bars sold to individual chocolatiers or chefs.

Together, sales to such clients mean the Zurich-based company should produce more than 1.2 million tonnes of chocolate and related cocoa products this year--with Barry Callebaut involved in about one in four of all the chocolate products we savour.

All chocolate, all the time

Barry Callebaut is a vertically-integrated global company, meaning that it is involved in all aspects of chocolate making--from buying the beans to selling the finished product.

From the moment it buys the beans, Barry Callebaut employees toil over every step in cocoa and chocolate production up to the finished product on the shelf.

"Our expertise and our presence in origin countries mean that we can offer the highest quality at all levels. With our nearly 1,700 different recipes we can make chocolate for every taste and for every application," CEO Patrick De Maeseneire tells Swiss News.

A global network offers Barry Callebaut customers a vast range of cocoa, including fine-grade cocoa varieties grown in regions spanning from Ecuador to Sao Tome or Java and Papua New Guinea.

Once the beans have been bought, the next phase is processing into semi-finished products: cocoa butter, cocoa and cocoa powders.

About two-thirds of these go into a wide range of Barry Callebaut's ready-to-use chocolate products, fillings and coatings and are sold to major branded food companies. Remaining quantities of cocoa butter, cocoa and cocoa powder are sold to the food industry for inclusion as ingredients in their chocolate products.

Clients range from companies such...

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