Swiss chocolate is world famous. It owes its renown to the innovative spirit of Switzerland's 19th-century chocolatiers. To this day, Swiss chocolate manufacturers are known for their attention to quality, innovative recipe ideas and continuous improvements to manufacturing processes. Over 70% of all chocolate produced in Switzerland is exported.

Swiss chocolate bar
Swiss chocolate is known and loved all over the world – for good reason. © Chocosuisse

Not only do Swiss people eat more chocolate per capita than anyone else, Switzerland is also one of the world's biggest chocolate producers. In 2019 the 17 leading chocolate manufacturers produced more than 200,000 tonnes of chocolate, of which almost 74% was sold abroad. Some of the biggest names in Swiss chocolate are Cailler, Lindt & Sprüngli and Frey.

Swiss chocolate pioneers

Swiss chocolate's reputation for excellence stems from a number of 19th-century Swiss chocolatiers and their inventions. François-Louis Cailler was the first to make chocolate solid – thereby inventing the chocolate bar. Philippe Suchard developed the mélangeur, a mixing machine to grind chocolate, still quite granular at the time, into a smooth paste. He also was the first to make Swiss chocolate abroad, opening a factory in Germany to produce brands such as Milka. Daniel Peter was the first to mix Nestlé's condensed milk with cocoa to make milk chocolate. And Rodolphe Lindt, who had a chocolate factory in Bern, developed the conching machine, which made it possible to produce melting chocolate for the first time. 

The 20th century brought more such breakthrough inventions. For example, there was Toblerone, a triangular-shaped nougat chocolate bar created by Theodor Tobler and Emil Baumann. The triangular shape is a reference to the Swiss mountains. Some of the original Swiss chocolate makers were bought out by larger food groups, e.g. Cailler, which was taken over by Nestlé in 1929. Other small-scale producers have managed to preserve their independence over the years and still practise the tradition of artisan chocolate production.

From Lake Geneva to the world

The first chocolate factories opened around the end of the 1700s in the French-speaking towns of Vevey, Morges and Lausanne and also in Ticino's Val di Blenio. Chocolate production then continued to expand throughout the 19th century. Increased automation in manufacturing led to lower prices, meaning that more and more people could afford to buy chocolate. Nowadays Swiss chocolate is produced all over the world, as many Swiss chocolate companies also have factories in the countries of sale.