The history of the Barry Callebaut family is built on one of the few things the whole world loves: Chocolate! The family tree began with European roots and has since grown multinational branches across the Americas, Asia Pacific and Africa. Even after 25 years of becoming the “heart and engine of the chocolate and cocoa industry”, it still feels like the Barry Callebaut story has just begun.
The vision of Klaus Jacobs
Before Barry Callebaut, there was the Belgian chocolate company Callebaut and Cacao Barry, its French arch-rival. Each had distinct strengths: Callebaut was focused on chocolate production and exports within Europe and to North America, while Cacao Barry had built an international profile by investing in cocoa farms and factories in Africa and South America. With a profound chocolate heritage, Klaus Jacobs saw the potential of what these companies could become together, and after a merger on 8th July, 1996, the chocolate industry changed forever.
Customer Focus, Passion, Entrepreneurship, Team Spirit and Integrity are values that define who Barry Callebaut (barry-callebaut.com) is, whether in Zurich, Switzerland, Suzhou, China or Accra, Ghana. These core values inspire its over 12,000 employees of more than 100 nationalities, uniting them across cultural and geographical borders. What’s even more remarkable is that 848 employees who were present at the very beginning share this 25th anniversary with Barry Callebaut! The passion and commitment of the Barry Callebaut family is at the heart of every milestone the company has achieved, such as listing on the Swiss Stock Exchange in 1998 and exponentially growing its sales volume from just over 560,000 tonnes in 1997 to 2.1 million tonnes in 143 countries today. Their strong sense of family spirit provides both stability and creativity to sustain its vision, making it one of the coolest companies in the world.
Currently, about a quarter of all the chocolate and cocoa products consumed on Earth can be traced to Barry Callebaut. It has become the world’s leading manufacturer of premium chocolate and cocoa products through solid partnerships with its customers. This is the same sense of purpose behind its CHOCOLATE ACADEMY™ Centers, which have grown from four European locations to a total of 23 on five continents. Part training ground and part inspiration hub, an international team of expert chefs lead the exploration of the art and science of chocolate from the home of the world’s very best. From practical dessert courses that teach catering professionals and chocolate artisans trendsetting techniques to collaborating with food and beverage manufacturers to develop the next delectable treat, the CHOCOLATE ACADEMY™ Centers keep Barry Callebaut in close contact with its global network of customers while lending its expertise to serve their needs. With every new acquisition, Barry Callebaut offers its industrial and gourmet clients a wider variety of tastes and textures to create chocolate magic all over the world.
Leading the Way Into the Future
Innovation is wired into Barry Callebaut’s DNA. Close to 20 years ago, the company was the first to launch a maltitol-based chocolate as a zero-sugar alternative that did not compromise taste. This product remains a bestseller, and there are now five distinct categories of low- to no-sugar chocolate solutions. Another early creation was Tintoretto, a rich chocolate filling which offered pralines a longer shelf life than any other option on the market. When the chocolate industry thought there could only be dark, milk and white chocolate, the company created ruby chocolate in 2017, a rosy-hued, fourth variety that explores the intense, fruity flavor of the ruby cocoa bean. In 2019, it introduced the “Cacaofruit Experience”, a diverse range of products that are not only rich in taste but also align with the growing zero-waste and upcycling approach by using the entire cacaofruit. Just last year, a 100% dairy-free “M_lk chocolate” was launched and Barry Callebaut’s global decorations brand, Mona Lisa, pioneered the world’s first personalized 3D chocolate printed at scale.
With every new step, Barry Callebaut remains at the forefront of chocolate and cocoa innovation. Its winning formula lies in the strong sense of ownership embodied by its people whose insights and ideas drive positive change, from product development to packaging solutions. The company’s culture stimulates ingenuity in a uniquely organic way that responds to customer feedback, draws on industry research and stays ahead of the curve.
Protecting Chocolate for the Next Generation
Long before sustainability began to sound like a business buzzword, Barry Callebaut felt a moral obligation, as well as a business need, to secure the cocoa and chocolate supply chain from the ground up. Between 2012 and 2015, its Cocoa Horizons initiative expanded into a nonprofit organization to improve the livelihoods of cocoa-farming communities. “Forever Chocolate” was born in 2016 with ambitious targets to alleviate poverty among cocoa farmers; eradicate cocoa-related child labor; become carbon and forest positive; and have 100% sustainable ingredients in all products by 2025. In addition, Barry Callebaut is a prominent voice on international policy governing cocoa sustainability; using its industry influence for good, and to strengthen partnerships between governments, cocoa farmers and the cocoa and chocolate industry. This concerted effort supports improving cocoa farmer livelihoods while enhancing community development in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, the world’s largest cocoa-producing countries.
Over a quarter of a century, Barry Callebaut has positioned itself as the heart and engine of the chocolate and cocoa industry; and what a journey it has been! Cheers to many more years of bringing the happiness and joy only chocolate and cocoa can give to millions of people around the world! Hip Hip Hooray!
Nana Kofi Acquah
Believing in the power of stories to change the world, Nana Kofi writes and photographs for businesses and organizations that are serious about growth. He lives in a tiny fishing village on the hem of Accra with his wife, 3 kids and 2 boerboels.