Switzerland Cocoa Beans Flourishing Imports

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ten data blog26-01-2024

Switzerland, renowned for its rich chocolate-making history, traces its cocoa beans import journey from the arrival of the first cocoa beans in Europe in the 1500s to the introduction of locally produced Swiss chocolate in the 1750s. The initial chocolate craftsmanship was predominantly in the hands of immigrants from France and Italy in the canton of Ticino, later expanding to the Vaud canton.

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Did Switzerland Pioneer Milk Chocolate?

Perhaps Switzerland's most crucial contribution to chocolate history is the creation of milk chocolate. Before the 1870s, chocolate lacked mass appeal—it was a pricey delicacy, primarily melted into milk or sold as intense plain or dark chocolate bars.

In 1875, Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter successfully blended cocoa beans and butter with Nestlé's sugar and condensed milk. This invention enhanced the chocolate's flavor, reduced costs, and made it delectable and affordable. Renowned Swiss brands like Lindt and Cailler further refined the process, cementing their status as industry giants.

Switzerland is celebrated for its milk chocolate, the most consumed type. In 1875, Daniel Peter crafted the first solid milk chocolate using condensed milk, an invention inspired by his neighbor Henri Nestlé in Vevey. Besides milk, various ingredients outside cocoa have been used to craft the most beloved chocolate bars, notably nuts (mainly hazelnuts and almonds) and dried fruits (raisins).

In essence, Swiss chocolate is celebrated for its delectable taste. Thanks to Switzerland's longstanding history in dairy production, Swiss-made chocolates often boast a higher milk-to-cocoa beans ratio, giving them a richer and creamier flavor compared to chocolates produced elsewhere.

Switzerland's Chocolate Demand Fuels Cocoa Beans Import

Significant Importer of Cocoa Beans

Switzerland stands as a notable importer of cocoa beans in Europe. In 2021, cocoa beans import totaled approximately 52,000 tons, valued at 145 million euros. Comparatively, the Netherlands led the imports, estimating an import volume of 804,000 tons, followed by Germany (445,000 tons) and Belgium (335,000 tons) in the same year.

Over 99% of Switzerland's cocoa beans import comes directly from cocoa-producing countries. The largest cocoa suppliers include Ghana (50%), Ecuador (24%), and the Dominican Republic (7.8%). From 2017 to 2021, Switzerland's cocoa beans import witnessed an average annual growth rate of 5.2%.

Importers in Action

Bulk cocoa beans importers typically handle large quantities and directly engage with exporters in cocoa-producing countries. In most cases, importers maintain long-term relationships with their suppliers, either selling cocoa beans to Swiss companies or re-exporting to other European buyers.

Examples of prominent cocoa and/or cocoa derivative importers in Switzerland include Barry Callebaut, Lindt & Sprüngli, and Nestlé. Specialized importers, focusing on smaller quantities and often collaborating directly with producers and cooperatives, include PRONATEC (organic and fair trade cocoa), Minka SCS (sustainable cocoa), Caboz (fair trade African cocoa), Walter Matter (fair trade cocoa), Chocolats Halba (fair trade cocoa), and Stella Bernrain (organic and fair trade cocoa).

Large-scale Chocolate Manufacturers

The largest industrial chocolate manufacturer globally, Barry Callebaut, also operates in Switzerland with production and grinding facilities. Other major players in the Swiss market include Camille Bloch, Maestrani, Mars, Mondelez, Nestlé, and Lindt & Sprüngli. These companies have their cocoa beans import departments, procuring cocoa beans directly from cocoa-producing countries.

Private label manufacturers may present an interesting avenue for cocoa beans sales. As major brands increasingly outsource production to specialized private label manufacturers, the significance of these companies grows. Examples of Swiss private label manufacturers include Stella Bernrain, Chocolats Halba, and PRONATEC.

For those with standard-quality and large-scale cocoa beans supplies, selling to these players can be enticing. Additionally, for local producers of cocoa mass and cocoa butter meeting high-quality standards, this might be a compelling channel.

Exploring Opportunities and Collaborations

Exploring new cocoa sources beyond primary suppliers presents exciting prospects for Swiss cocoa beans importers. Cocoa-producing countries with unique flavor profiles or those adopting sustainable farming practices may find increased interest from Swiss chocolate manufacturers.

Collaboration between Swiss chocolate manufacturers, cocoa-producing countries, and international organizations becomes crucial. Initiatives addressing sustainability challenges, promoting fair trade, and ensuring the long-term viability of cocoa farming contribute to a symbiotic relationship.


Switzerland's cocoa beans import plays a vital role in sustaining its illustrious chocolate-making tradition. As the nation indulges in its love for chocolate, the global cocoa trade dynamics offer both challenges and opportunities. Through sustainable practices, innovation, and international collaboration, Switzerland ensures that its cocoa beans imports not only meet present demands but contribute to a sustainable and flavorful future.

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