Producing Chocolate is no small thing

President: Paolo MASCARINO - FERRERO S.p.A., Secretary: Antonio FEOLA

Producing chocolate is no small thing: the quality of the finished product is largely influenced by the “masterly” execution of the various stages of its complex production process. The 19th century saw the affirmation of chocolate and the arrival of inventions that changed the way cacao was processed.

In the early 20h century, the industrialisation of production processes took shape and important companies such as Perugina, Novi, Peyrano, Streglio, Majani, Caffarel established themselves in Italy. Others appeared on the market after the Great War, the first being Ferrero. Many of today’s great chocolate companies bear the names of the pioneers who made the chocolate industry what it is today, and they are all committed to protecting the original quality of the product.
In 2017, Italy produced about 333,782 tonnes of chocolate-based products, for a value of 4,509.3 million euros, with over 300,000 tonnes of products exported and a per capita consumption of about 2.5 kg.
There are thousands of different types of chocolate products and the creative minds of Italian producers never sleep! Here are a few examples of chocolate-based products:

  • Bars of Chocolate

  • Chocolates
  • Spreads
  • Chocolate Eggs
  • Chocolate Bars
  • Other Cacao-based Products
  • Semi-finished Products
  • A little History
  • The Myth of Chocolates
  • The Great 19-TH Century Inventions
  • From the Master Chocolatiers to Today
  • Chocolate Bars

    As well as the classic 100-gramme bars of dark, milk, white or gianduja chocolate, it is now possible to buy single-serving size portions to satisfy a sudden “craving for something sweet” or to recharge your energy while studying or working.


    The creativity of producers fully manifests itself in the production of chocolates, which combine the excellent quality of chocolate with other ingredients such as hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, cherries and creams. Available in a wide variety of sizes and flavours, chocolates not only satisfy the most demanding palates, but also seduce us with the elegant gift boxes they often come in. It is also easy to be tempted by those practical boxes containing just a few chocolates, offering a convenient solution for a quick, sweet snack.

    Chocolate Spreads

    Chocolate spreads are an all-Italian product: several generations of children have grown up eating bread or melba toast spread with this delicious mixture of hazelnuts and low-fat cacao for breakfast or as a snack. A healthy energy boost to start a busy day.

    Chocolate Eggs

    An Easter egg embodies tradition and innovation, magic and expectation, sweetness and affection, conquering both hearts and palates. But there is something else that makes a chocolate egg a magical object of desire: the surprise inside, a “Made in Italy” invention that is still only widespread in our country. The creativity of chocolate companies has certainly contributed to enriching this ancient tradition, every year offering attractive wrappings and captivating, imaginative and fun surprises.

    Chocolate Snacks Bars

    Chocolate bars filled with biscuit, wafer, milk, caramel, hazelnut, to name but a few. A tasty energy-boosting snack in single-serving size portions, perfect for a break at work or while doing sports.

    Other Cacao-based Products

    Instant hot chocolate and cacao powder are used to make steaming cups of hot chocolate, delicious homemade desserts, or to add flavour and energy to children’s milk at breakfast.

    Semi-finished Products

    Coating chocolate, cacao powder for industrial use, substitute coatings and cacao butter: these are all products destined for use by other industrial and artisan companies for the production of chocolate products or as fillings and toppings for biscuits and other baked goods, confectionery products and ice cream. Semi-finished products represent about a quarter of all industrial cacao-based products.

    A little History

    The cacao plant has very ancient origins: it is believed to have been growing in the Amazon and Orinoco river basins over 6000 years ago, and that the first farmers to cultivate it were the Mayans in around 1000 BC. After the Mayans, the Aztecs also began to cultivate cacao and later to produce chocolate, associating it with Xochiquetzal, the goddess of fertility. Among these populations, cacao was consumed by the elite during important ceremonies, and was considered mystical and religious.
    The first European to come into contact with cacao was Christopher Columbus, during his fourth and last trip to America in 1502, when he landed in Honduras and had the opportunity to taste a cacao-based drink. But cacao was only introduced into Europe in 1519, thanks to Hernàn Cortéz, where it was consumed with the addition of vanilla and sugar to reduce the naturally bitter taste.
    Cacao was imported to Italy sometime between the 16th and 17th centuries. The first cities to produce it were Florence, Venice and Turin. In the 17th century, it became a widespread luxury among European nobles, and the Dutch, who were skilled navigators, gained global control and market dominance from the Spaniards.

    The Myth of Chocolates

    There are different opinions on the invention of chocolates. The most suggestive is that they were the consequence of an accident in a Duke’s kitchen: a saucepan full of caramelised sugar accidentally spilled over some almonds, igniting the imagination of the chef, who created a bite-size dessert covered with chocolate.
    However, it appears that the first chocolates were made in Turin (late 1700s), in Piedmont, the region that also boasts the invention of Gianduiotti chocolates. The exquisite chocolate and ground hazelnut paste used to make these chocolates was the result of the blockade designed by Napoleon to paralyze Great Britain through the destruction of British commerce: cacao, the cost of which had become very high, was then “diluted” with hazelnuts.

    The Great 19-TH Century Invetions

    The 19th century saw the affirmation of solid chocolate and the arrival of inventions that revolutionised the way cacao was processed. In 1802, a Genoese man named Bozelli invented a hydraulic machine to refine the cacao mass and mix it with sugar and vanilla. In 1820, the first commercial bar of chocolate was born, produced in England, and in 1828 the Dutch chemist and chocolatier Coenraad Johannes van Houten developed a special press that separated the butter from the cacao powder. In 1875, milk chocolate was launched on the market, while in 1879 the conching process was invented, which consists of the melted chocolate being stirred for a long time to ensure a uniform mixture.

    From the Master Chocolatiers to Today

    At the beginning of the 20th century, the industrialisation of production processes began, while cacao plantations spread into the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, East Africa and Malaysia. At the same time, the ingenuity of the master chocolatiers continued to produce new creations, such as the chocolate bar, invented in 1923.

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