|Founded||Merger of Cacao Barry and Callebaut in 1996|
|Products||Cocoa and Chocolate|
|Revenue||CHF 7.3 billion (2018/2019)|
|CHF 601.2 million (2018/2019)|
|CHF 368.7 million (2018/2019)|
Number of employees
Barry Callebaut is a cocoa processor and chocolate manufacturer, with an average annual production of 2.1 million tonnes of cocoa & chocolate (fiscal year 2018/2019). 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 in Hardricourt, France in 1842, by Charles Barry, an Englishman with a passion for exploring Africa. During Barry's travels to Africa he came in contact with cocoa beans, a major component in the production of chocolate. The company began producing chocolate in 1911.
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 1992, the holding company Société Centrale d'Investissement (SCI) gained control of Cacao Barry, then transferred 49% of the company's capital to Compagnie Nationale à Portefeuille (CNP), an investment fund in financier Albert Frere's group. SCI's management approach favoured greater penetration of the UK market with the consequent opening of a new production site in the United Kingdom. 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 the 1950s, Callebaut, which was still a family-run business, began exporting its products to other European and North American markets, leveraging the fact that Belgian chocolate had earned an excellent reputation for its quality. In the 1970s, Callebaut opened a production site in Italy, along with one of its chocolatier schools to train master pastry chefs. In the early 1980s, Interfood, a subsidiary of Tobler-Suchard, bought the company. Bernard Callebaut, heir of the founding family, moved to Canada where he opened a new chocolate factory, named Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut. In 1983, Klaus Jacobs acquired full control of Interfood, the holding company that controlled Callebaut, becoming an international confectionery leader. After a series of acquisitions in the industry, the company merged with the US company Kraft in 1987, creating Kraft Jacobs Suchard.
Belgian chocolate producer Callebaut and French chocolate company Cacao Barry merged in 1996 to form Barry Callebaut. In 1998, Barry Callebaut was listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange. From a business standpoint, the new Franco-Belgian confectionery company continued to grow, with Jacobs Suchard assigning it the management of Van Houten, the Dutch chocolate and cocoa powder maker founded in 1815 in Amsterdam, which Jacobs Suchard had acquired in 1986. Barry Callebout also expanded its range of products, launching new brands on the market, like Bensdorp (cocoa powder), The Barry and Callebaut (gourmet chocolate and cocoa-based products) and new lines under the Barry Callebaut brand for industrial use, including cocoa powder, cocoa butter, liqueur and chocolate.
In 1988, the company acquired the US-based confectionery company Van Leer Chocolate and, the following year, it acquired the Swiss Carma-Pfister AG. That same year, Barry Callebaut gained access to the South American market when it bought the Brazilian company Chadler Industrial de Bahia.
In 2002, under the leadership of its new CEO, Patrick G. De Maeseneire, Barry Callebaut acquired the German company Stollwerck for $225 million, thereby taking over the 17 brands under its control, including Sarotti.
The following year, it bought Brach's through the assumption of $16 million worth of debt. In 2004, it acquired AM Foods K/S, a company based in Denmark and specialised in croissanterie and chocolate. In 2007, Barry Callebaut signed an agreement with fellow Swiss brand Nestlé to buy its French site in Dijon, plants for the production of cocoa and liquid chocolate in bulk at the Italian site in San Sisto (Perugia), and to supply Nestlé with 43,000 tonnes of chocolate products per year in France, Italy and Russia. Before the year was out, it had acquired FPI-Food Processing International in the United States and Keepong Cocoa Products Sdn Bhd in Malaysia. In 2009, Barry Callebaut bought the Spanish chocolate producer Chocovic S.A. These international acquisitions took place in the space of a few years, leading CEO De Maeseneire to announce, "We did not want Barry Callebaut to be merely European, we wanted it to become a global company". Two years later, the company decided to transfer the Stollwerck division to the Belgian Baronie Group, in turn controlled by the Sweet Group private equity firm, disposing of most of its retail operations in European markets.
In September of the same year, the Swiss company launched a new type of chocolate, a pink chocolate named Ruby, in addition to milk, dark and white chocolate. The pink hue is not created by adding artificial colouring or through chemical manipulation, but is the result of the cocoa beans used to produce the chocolate, Ruby cocoa beans, cultivated in countries with specific climatic conditions, like Ecuador, Brazil and the Ivory Coast, and processed naturally by Barry Callebaut. Barry Callebaut presented what it calls "the fourth type of chocolate" at a private event held for industry experts in Shanghai, since the company sees China as a privileged market for its business.
In January 2018, Nestlé Japan Ltd. launched Kit Kat Chocolatory Sublime Ruby in Japan, becoming the first global brand to use the pink chocolate formula developed by Barry Callebaut. The product was also launched in April of the same year in the UK, the first Western nation to test the pink Kit Kat created using Barry Callebaut's Ruby cocoa beans on a commercial scale.
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.
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.
A follow-on report by Mighty Earth dated 7 December 2018 indicated little to no progress had been made in the year since Barry Callebaut and other signatories had committed to the Cocoa and Forests Initiative.
In 2021, Barry Callebaut was named in a class action lawsuit filed by eight former child slaves from Mali who allege that the company aided and abetted their enslavement on cocoa plantations in Ivory Coast. The suit accused Barry Callebaut (along with Nestlé, Cargill, Mars, Incorporated, Olam International, The Hershey Company, and Mondelez International) of knowingly engaging in forced labor, and the plaintiffs sought damages for unjust enrichment, negligent supervision, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.