According to The Daily Meal, Americans buy 58 million pounds of chocolate in the 7 days leading up to Valentine’s Day. But where does all that chocolate come from? Western Europe alone accounts for an incredible 35% of the world’s chocolate production. Two countries that help make up that statistic are Belgium and Switzerland.  We wanted to know more about Belgium and Swiss chocolates.  What makes them unique?  Read our quick facts to find out more and perhaps it will inspire your future chocolate-buying!

Belgian Chocolate


  • Belgium’s chocolate interest started in the 19th century when chocolate was being shipped from its latest colony, the Congo.
  • Belgium invented the praline, a chocolate with a hard shell and soft center, in 1912. This was quite the development indeed, as previously fillings in chocolates couldn’t be too delicate. With a hard shell, chocolatiers had a wider range of creativity for their fillings.
  • According to the Belgian Royal Association for the Chocolate, Praline, Biscuits and Sugar Confectionery Industry, there are no quality requirements to be called “Belgian chocolate”. The only criteria for Belgian chocolates is that they must be made in Belgium. However, this is not to say that Belgian chocolates are not quality! The Belgians want to make sure that other countries do not label their chocolates as Belgian if they are not made in that country.
  • Belgian chocolates are typically hand-made as opposed to made with machinery.
  • Some famous Belgian chocolate companies include Godiva, Côte d’Or, Neuhaus, Pierre Marcolini, Galler, and Leonidas.

Swiss Chocolate


  • Lindt, Toblerone, and Nestlé are three of the most famous Swiss chocolate brands in the world.
  • While the Swiss started making chocolate in the 17th century, the first mass-produced Swiss chocolate was made in 1819 in Vevey, Switzerland by François-Louis Cailler.

  • Switzerland has the highest per capita rate of chocolate consumption in the world, at nearly 30 pounds every year.
  • Chocosuisse is the name of an association of Swiss chocolate manufacturers. It counts most of the popular manufacturers of Swiss chocolate as members, including Lindt, Kraft, Callier, Chocolat Stella, Frey, and Camille Bloch.
  • In a spirit of innovation, milk chocolate was invented in 1867 when Daniel Peter opened his own factory and added milk powder to his product.

While chocolate production happens mainly in Europe and the United States, two thirds of the cocoa used to make the chocolate comes from West Africa. The governments of Ghana and the Ivory Coast recently came together to form their first international cocoa alliance, and have plans to charge an additional $400 per metric ton of its crop starting in October. These two countries alone produce over 60% of the world’s cocoa. While the “cocoa cartel” may lead to economic growth and better conditions for West African farmers, your Nestlé chocolate might be about to get a little pricier. We hope you got your fill of chocolate this Valentine’s Day!

Sources

Crowley, Laura.  "New code to protect image of Belgian chocolate." Confectionery news.com, 15 March 2017, www.confectionerynews.com/Article/2008/08/14/New-code-to-protect-image-of-Belgian-chocolate. Accessed 13 February 2020. 

Maverick, J.B. "The 4 Countries That Produce the Most Chocolate." Investopedia, 8 November 2019,  www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/093015/4-countries-produce-most-chocolate.asp. Accessed 5 February 2020.

Menyes, Carolyn. "How Many Pounds of Chocolate Do Americans Buy for Valentine’s Day?" The Daily Meal, 5 February 2020,  https://www.thedailymeal.com/holidays/chocolate-valentines-day-pounds/020520. Accessed 13 February 2020. 

Mowbray, Sean.  "A Brief History of Chocolate in Switzerland." Culture Trip, 12 February 2018, https://theculturetrip.com/europe/switzerland/articles/brief-history-chocolate-switzerland/.  Accessed 5 February 2020.

Terenzi, Sharon. "TIME FOR YOU TO STOP BELIEVING THE LIES BEHIND “BELGIAN CHOCOLATES.” The Chocolate Journalist, 18 June 2017, thechocolatejournalist.com/belgian-chocolates/.  Accessed 5 February 2020.

"The Bittersweet Effect of the New Cocoa Cartel" The Wall Street Journal, January 18-19, 2020

Images

Header: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/20/Pralines_cut.jpg, via Wikimedia Commons Map: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgian_Congo#/media/File:Map-belgian-congo.jpg, via Wikimedia Commons Swiss poster: bibliotheques-specialisees.paris.fr/ark:/73873/pf0000824751/v0001.simple.selectedTab=record, via Ville de Paris, BHVP

Natalie Collet

Membership Manager

From the Midwest, Natalie is a Francophile at heart. Her interest in French started when studying ballet and​ the language and culture entranced her through her student years.​ She became involved with the - Alliance - in the suburbs of Chicago after she spent an unforgettable year teaching English in a French high school near Bordeaux. She is happy to join the team in Boston and work with the members to provide them with unique opportunities​, ​quality programming​, and a community through French!

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