What is the chocolate industry?


The term “chocolate industry” is a broad way of describing all participants in the commercial chocolate production cycle. Everyone from local cocoa farmers and collectors to executive traders, sales agents and advertising associates are included. The industry is truly international, encompassing people and companies in almost every country.

Although many people and processes are involved, the chocolate industry can generally be divided into three broad categories or stages. First comes the harvest, which involves farmers, workers and buyers of raw cocoa beans. Then comes production, where the beans are shipped, processed, and made into chocolate. Finally comes sales, distribution and marketing, when chocolates hit the market and fight for consumer attention. Anyone involved in any part of these processes can aptly be described as a part of the chocolate industry.

Chocolates covered with coconut flakes.

All chocolate and chocolate-based products are derived from cocoa beans. Cocoa beans don’t grow very large, however. They are generally limited to certain areas of Central America and West Africa. Those who cultivate and control cocoa bean plantations are therefore an essential part of the chocolate industry.

One of the biggest sources of controversy in the chocolate industry is the fair treatment and wages of cocoa plantation workers. Many of the leading chocolate brands have been accused of human rights violations in the name of profit or increased production. In response to this criticism, many of the world’s chocolate makers have their products certified as “fair trade”. This designation indicates that the company’s hiring and payment practices are ethical and humane in accordance with internationally recognized standards.

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Belgian chocolates with very detailed shells.

Chocolate production takes place when the beans are sent to processing plants, then cleaned, roasted and turned into the cocoa powder that forms the basis of most chocolate. Cocoa powder is used in many different ways. It is sometimes simply sweetened, flavored, and heightened for sale as a hot chocolate blend or base. It can also be combined with milk or solid wax to create chocolate bars for baking or eating, or formed into chocolate confectionery of various types. There are many different chocolate products in production at any given time.

The chocolate industry refers to everyone involved in the production of confectionery.

Once products are made, they must be packaged, marked and prepared for shipment. In the gourmet chocolate industry, sales are often localized. Larger companies and international brands tend to distribute more widely. Chocolate export is big business in many parts of the world, but this opens up an entirely different sector of the chocolate industry: one related to business and marketing strategy.

A person who mixes and sells hot chocolate would be considered part of the chocolate industry.

Chocolate industry executives must understand and follow international export laws, which often include things like labeling restrictions and pricing parameters. Even at home, you need to think hard about how chocolate products are sold, distributed and advertised. More often than not, manufacturers invest resources to understand the discrete dynamics of the chocolate market so that sales campaigns can be targeted specifically to certain communities.

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