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

Below is a list of Business Case Studies case studies organised alphabetically by company. To view more companies, please choose a letter from the list below.



Production, chocolate, cocoa, beans, Nestle manufacturing, chain, market, consumers, raw materials, economy, supply chain, industry, resources.


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.

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 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.

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).

Boxed chocolates such as Quality Street make up 15of the confectionery market.

Blocks and bars like Kit Kat and Yorkie account for 65and bitesize chocolates e.g. Smarties and Rolo make up 10/P>

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.

Besides the cocoa beans themselves, raw materials for the chocolate industry include sugar, milk and wrapping/packaging materials e.g. paper, foil and card.

As a major buyer Nestle seeks to be as closely involved in the supply chain as possible, to ensure quality and fairness.

Currently Nestle is participating in a process to examine potential problems of forced child labour on cocoa farms in West Africa.

They depend on people operating in the tertiary or service sector of the economy to collect, purchase and transport the cocoa product to warehouses.

Learning outcomes:

As a result of carefully reading this case study, students should be able to:

  • appreciate the complexity of chocolate manufacture
  • identify countries in which cocoa beans are grown
  • explain the key resources used in chocolate manufacture
  • distinguish between the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors of an economy
  • explain some economies of scale associated with continuous flow production
  • describe some of the production processes used in chocolate manufacture
  • outline advantages stemming from large scale production.

Nestlé | From bean to bar - the production process