From bean to bar - the production process
A Nestlé case study

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Page 1: Introduction

Most of us love chocolate in one form or another and every week a typical UK citizen spends around £1.80 on it. Amazingly, UK consumers have a choice of over 5,000 chocolate lines available from 150,000 outlets. Because it is so widely and readily available, we tend to take chocolate for granted, and few of us probably ever consider what is involved in producing it.

This case study looks at the massive, complex worldwide operations that ensures that chocolate products are on the shelves of retail outlets 365 days a year. We tend to treat this achievement as routine. In reality, it represents a triumph for careful planning and meticulous organisation. We don't know who first discovered that cocoa beans could be turned into a drink, but we do know that by 600AD the Mayan people living in what is now Mexico were growing cocoa in the jungles of Yucatan.

In the 16th century the Spaniards invaded South America, quickly learned the secrets of making chocolate as a drink and started shipping back cargoes of cocoa beans. By the 18th century, chocolate-based drinks were popular in British high society. In the mid-19th century an English cocoa manufacturer, Joseph Storrs Fry, tried mixing cocoa butter with sugar and cocoa paste and invented the world's first solid blocks of chocolate.

The UK has long been a major manufacturer (and consumer) of chocolate products. All over the world you will find prominent brands first developed in the UK e.g. Smarties, Dairy Milk, Aero and of course Kit Kat (the UK's Number 1 selling confectionery brand since 1985). Three producers dominate the chocolate market. Cadbury with around 28% while Mars and Nestlé each have around 24%. Sales of milk chocolate (96%) predominate, with plain and white chocolate accounting for about 2% each. Boxed chocolates such as Quality Street make up 15% of the confectionery market. Blocks and bars like Kit Kat and Yorkie account for 65% and bitesize chocolates e.g. Smarties and Rolo make up 10%. Easter eggs are another big seller, accounting for 5% of the market.

The UK's chocolate industry is over 150 years old. Chocolate manufacture provides steady employment and job security for tens of thousands of employees in manufacturing locations like York and Birmingham. The industry also generates jobs in marketing, administration, transport and storage. Chocolate sales are an important source of income for many retailers.

Nestlé | From bean to bar - the production process