The top four countries responsible for the production of the world's chocolate are Germany, Belgium, Italy, and Poland. These four countries account for over 40% of the world's total chocolate exports. Interestingly, none of the major producers of chocolate are themselves top sources of cocoa, nor are the major cocoa-producing countries also major chocolate manufacturing centers.
There's no real reason that European countries are among the world's leading chocolate manufacturers other than the popularity of chocolate in Europe since its introduction. The U.S. inherited its love of chocolate through its European immigrants, and companies such as Mars Inc. and the Hershey Foods Corporation sprang up to match consumer demand.
- The four top chocolate-producing countries are Germany, Belgium, Italy, and Poland.
- Switzerland started making chocolate in the 17th century, and the Swiss are the largest consumers of chocolate per capita.
- Belgium is one of the largest producers, and much of the chocolate is still made by hand.
Germany rang in as the world's top exporter of chocolate in 2020. Chocolate exports from Germany totaled $4.96 billion (USD) in 2020, accounting for a whopping 17% of the world's total exports.
Cologne is often regarded as the chocolate capital of Germany. Chocolate shops in the U.S. often import chocolates from the city to sell alongside U.S. chocolate brands. Stollwerck Chocolates Company is one of the most famous chocolate manufacturers in the country; it also has production plants in Belgium and Switzerland. Other famous chocolate brands in Germany include La Maison du Chocolat, Tortchen, and Leonidas Chocolates.
Germany ranks third, behind Switzerland and Austria, in its per capita consumption of chocolate, which stands at just over 17 pounds per person.
Belgium is also world-renowned for its chocolates, and it is a major chocolate manufacturing center. One of the most famous chocolate companies in the world, Godiva, makes its home in Brussels. In 2020, Belgium exported $3.1 billion worth of chocolate, accounting for 11% of the world's total exports.
Since 1884, the composition of Belgian chocolate has been regulated by law. To ensure the purity of the chocolate and to prevent reliance on low-quality fat from outside sources, Belgian law mandates that a minimum of 35% pure cocoa must be used in production.
The craft of producing chocolate—and the country's pride in the production process and resulting product—leads the industry to adhere to traditional manufacturing techniques. This includes a ban on artificial, vegetable, or palm oil-based fats in all products that carry a "Belgian chocolate" label. A significant number of the chocolate firms in Belgium still produce chocolate by hand, without the aid of modern production equipment.
Italy is well-known for its chocolates and principal chocolate manufacturers. The production of chocolate is an important source of wealth for the country. In 2020, Italy exported $2.1 billion worth of chocolate, accounting for more than 7% of the world's total chocolate exports.
Some of the most popular chocolate manufacturers in Italy include Majani, Caffarel, and Perugina. Majani's history in the production of chocolate dates back to 1796. The very first shop was created by Teresa Majani in the city of Bologna, then occupied by Napoleon.
Perhaps one of the more surprising entries on this list, Poland has increasingly been a major player in chocolate production. In 2020, the country exported just over $2 billion in chocolate products around the world, accounting for 7.3% of the world's exports.
According to a survey by Statista, the top chocolate manufacturers in Poland in 2021 are, in order, Milka, E.Wedel, and Kinder.
In 2018, the subject of Polish chocolate production found itself on the news when a truck transporting 12 tons of liquid chocolate tipped over, spilling the contents across six lanes of traffic.
Cocoa beans are the primary ingredient in the production of chocolate and West Africa produces approximately two-thirds of the world's cocoa beans. More than 40% of that cocoa bean production is sourced from the Ivory Coast. The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) reports that somewhere around 8 million Ivorians depend on cocoa production and the cocoa industry as a source of livelihood.
Nestle, along with several other chocolate companies, formed the WCF in 2000, largely to address issues that affect cocoa farmers and stabilize cocoa production. Among the stated objectives of the foundation are increased cocoa farmers' income, the establishment of environmental programs, and encouraging the use of sustainable farming techniques.