Barry Callebaut is among the world's largest cocoa producers and grinders, with an average annual production of 1.7 million tonnes of cocoa. It was created in 1996 through the merging of the Belgian chocolate producer Callebaut and the French company Cacao Barry. It is currently based in Zürich, Switzerland, and operates in over 30 countries worldwide. It was created in its present form by Klaus Johann Jacobs.
Cacao Barry was founded by Charles Barry in France in 1842. The company's founder traveled to Africa to seek out a selection of cocoa beans that would enable him to create his first connoisseur's chocolate. In 1923, Alexandre Lacarré took over the reins and carried out a number of ambitious projects for the company. In 1952, Cacao Barry became active from bean to gourmet chocolate. In 1963, the company created "Baking Sticks" and simultaneously the chocolate croissant (pain au chocolat ). In 1973, they launched the "Your demonstration partner" brand to introduce personalized assistance and support to professionals. In 1994, shortly before the merger of 1996, they launched the Pure Origine of Cacao Barry brand.
Callebaut was a Belgian company, founded by Eugenius Callebaut as a brewery in Wieze, Belgium, in 1850. The brewery began producing chocolate bars in 1911 and soon switched entirely to chocolate production. They began producing chocolate couverture in 1925.
In 1999 the company acquired Swiss chocolate maker Carma AG. In 2002, the group bought German company Stollwerck. These acquisitions were followed in 2003 by the acquisition of Dutch-Belgian company Luijckx Chocoladen N.V., AM Foods amba (vending mixes) in Sweden in 2004, FPI Food Processing International in the U.S in 2007 and KL-Kepong Cocoa Products Sdn Bhd in Malaysia in 2008. It sold Stollwerck in 2011.
Barry Callebaut is present in over 30 countries, operates about 53 production facilities, employs 9,898 people, and has annual sales of CHF 6.7 billion (fiscal year 2015/16). The company serves the food industry from manufacturers to professional users of chocolate (such as chocolatiers, pastry chefs, or bakers), to global retailers. It also provides a comprehensive range of services in the fields of product development, processing, training, and marketing.
- 1999 Acquisition of Carma AG in Switzerland
- 2002 Acquisition of the Stollwerck Group in Germany
- 2003 Acquisition of Dutch Group Graverboom B.V. (including Luijckx B.V.)
- 2004 Acquisition of the vending mix business of ASM Foods in Sweden
- 2004 Opening of a sales office in Tokyo, Japan
- 2005 Opening of a chocolate factory in California, U.S.
- 2007 Opening of a chocolate factory in Chekhov (near Moscow), Russia
- 2007 Major outsourcing contracts with Nestlé, Hershey's and Cadbury
- 2007 Acquisition of a cocoa factory in Eddystone, Pennsylvania, U.S.
- 2008 Opening of a chocolate factory in Suzhou (near Shanghai), China
- 2008 Signing of the acquisition of chocolate production capacity from Morinaga & Company, Japan
- 2008 Opening of Chocolate Academies in Suzhou (China), Zundert (Netherlands), Mumbai (India), Chekhov (Russia) and Chicago (U.S.)
- 2008 Acquisition of a 60% stake in KL-Kepong Cocoa Products Sdn Bhd in Malaysia
- 2008 Strategic partnership with Biolands of Tanzania
- 2008 Sale of African consumer business
- 2008 Opening of a specialty factory for frozen pastry in Alicante, Spain
- 2009 Opening of a chocolate factory in Monterrey, Mexico
- 2009 Sale of Van Houten Singapur consumer business to Hershey's
- 2009 Acquisition of Danish vending mix company Eurogran
- 2009 Acquisition of Spanish chocolate maker Chocovic, S.A.
- 2010 Opening of a chocolate factory in Extrema, Brazil
- 2010 Signing of a long-term strategic partnership agreement with Kraft Foods Inc.
- 2011 Acquisition of remaining 40% stake in Barry Callebaut Malaysia Sdn Bhd, formerly KLK Cocoa
- 2011 Expansion of the existing supply and innovation agreement with Hershey
- 2011 Signing of long-term outsourcing agreement with Chocolates Turín, Mexico
- 2011 Sale of Stollwerck to Baronie Group
- 2011 Joint venture with P.T. Comextra Majora to form P.T. Barry Callebaut Comextra Indonesia
- 2012 Acquisition of la Morella nuts in Spain
- 2012 Acquisition of Mona Lisa Food Products, Inc. in the U.S.
- 2012 Launch of "Cocoa Horizons" initiative based on strategic pillar "Sustainable Cocoa”
- 2012 Purchasing Chatham facility from Batory Industries Company in Ontario (Canada)
- 2012 Signing of long-term outsourcing/partnership agreements with Unilever, Grupo Bimbo (Mexico), and Morinaga (Japan)
- 2013 Opening of a chocolate factory in Eskisehir, Turkey
In 2005, Barry Callebaut introduced a "healthy" chocolate product called ACTICOA, which contains higher levels of polyphenol antioxidants (cocoa flavanols) than any other chocolate; some evidence indicates these flavanols have particular health benefits.
On September 13, 2017 NGO Mighty Earth released a report documenting findings that Barry Callebaut purchases cocoa grown illegally in national parks and other protected forests in the Ivory Coast.
The report accused Barry Callebaut of endangering the forest habitats of chimpanzees, elephants and other wildlife populations by purchasing cocoa linked to deforestation. As a result of cocoa production, 7 of the 23 Ivorian protected areas have been almost entirely converted to cocoa. Barry Callebaut was notified of the findings of Mighty Earth’s investigation and did not deny that the company sourced its cocoa from protected areas in the Ivory Coast.