The Belgian chocolate has acquired an excellent reputation over the centuries. It distinguishes itself by its fine texture with a high content of cocoa butter, and is prepared with the best selection of grains.
Its history goes back to 1635 in Ghent, when the abbot of Baudeloo Abbey bought chocolate and started commercializing the mixture. Chocolate making was then mostly used by pharmacists who sold it as a tonic. In 1840, Belgian chocolate maker Berwaerts sold the first pressed chocolate tablets, pastilles and figurines. It was around this time that several of the large Belgian companies were founded such as Neuhaus (1857), Côte d’Or (1883), Jacques (1896) and Callebaut (1911).
20th century: the century of Belgian inventions, a time of glory.
Four important moments mark the history of Belgian chocolate: the invention of the praline and the ballotin, the introduction of the chocolate spread and the development of the transport of liquid chocolate:
- In 1912, Jean Neuhaus Jr. invented the praline, the first chocolate with a soft filling.
- In 1915, Louise Agostini, wife of Jean Neuhaus Jr JR, developed the first ‘ballotin’, a box in which pralines were packed.
- In 1925, Charles Callebaut made one of the most important inventions: the transport of liquid chocolate.
- In 1935, Basile Kestekidès, the nephew of the founder of Leonidas, invented the ‘Manon’, a large praline coated in white chocolate.
- In 1936, Jacques launched the first filled chocolate bar with praliné.
The Chocolate spread is also a Belgian invention.
Chocolate spread is also a Belgian invention first launched by Côte d’Or in 1952. Côte d’Or also boosted the reputation of Belgian chocolate internationally through a major campaign at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair.
21st century Belgian chocolate from Flanders and Brussels is appreciated for its quality world-wide.
Belgian chocolate sellers in Belgium are praised all over the world for their creativity and innovation. Who would have thought that what all started in the 17th century in Ghent would turn today into more than 320 chocolateries and produce over 725,000 tons of chocolate each year?
Belgium and its chocolate industry in annual figures.
- Consumption of chocolate per person in Belgium: 6 kg.
- Total turnover of the Belgian chocolate industry: 4,179 billion Euros (confectionery included).
- Total production: 661,673 tons.
- Total exports: 578,043 tons.
- Total retail sales value of the Belgian chocolate market: 700 million Euros.
- Proportion of the workforce employed in the chocolate industry: 8,5%
- Proportion of exports of the chocolate and confectionary industry: 11,2%
- Number of chocolate and pastry plants: 320.
- Number of employees involved in the production of chocolate and confectionery: 7,619 employees (confectionery included).
- Raw cacao arriving at the port of Antwerp: 190,000 tons.
Unique experience in Brussels: Belgian Chocolate tasting tour in Brussels.
Belgian chocolates tasting tour in Brussels: Discover the history of Belgian chocolate through this visit during which you will have the opportunity to taste a wide range of chocolates made by the best artisans in Brussels.
Belgian chocolates private tasting tour in Brussels: A gourmet walk. Discover the history of Belgian chocolate and taste the best chocolates at the best chocolate artisans in the Belgian capital. A unique experience. Private and customized tour available.
- Belgian Chocolate Tasting Tour of BrusselsFrom: 12,0€
- Private Belgian Chocolate Tasting Tour in BrusselsFrom: 170,0€
Learn more about Belgian chocolate – Wikipedia