Does the word “BELGIAN” on a chocolate package really means it is chocolate MADE IN Belgium?
Belgian chocolate tradition
The Belgian chocolate industry became world famous following the invention of the praline by Neuhaus. It is a chocolate shell with a soft centre.
Neuhaus has become one of Belgium’s most famous global brands together with Callebaut and Leonidas. Godiva used to be Belgian but Campbell Soup purchased the company in 1967. Yildiz Holdings, who also own Ulker, a Turkish food manufacturing company, bought Godiva in 2007. They still have a plant in Belgium but also in Connecticut, USA. They have their Head Quarters in New York.
The Royal Belgian Association CHOPRABISCO represents the Belgian chocolate industry and sets our Belgian High Quality Standard. Its chocolate members are bound by a quality Code. The designation “Belgian chocolate” can only be used for the labelling, packaging and publicity of products which cumulatively are manufactured in Belgium. This implies that at least the mixing, refining and conching processes are performed in Belgium. Such products can also use the denomination “Belgian style”, “Belgian collection”, “Belgian recipe”, “Belgian tradition” on their packaging. In the same vein, the use of Belgian geographic denominations, typical Belgian symbols (e.g., national flag), landscapes, buildings (e.g., the Atomium), characters (e.g., Manneken Pis, Tintin or Royal Family) or any other drawings that can be perceived as typically Belgian by the consumer is admitted for the products complying with requirements of the code.
Some producers take disadvantage of the notification ‘Belgian’
Some producers are tempted to take a free ride on the reputation of quality attached to Belgian chocolates. They should be careful not to mislead the consumer as to the quality of the product, when doing so. Such attempts have been recently denounced in the press by consumer organizations.
The CHOPRABISCO Code prohibits the use of these denominations and reference to Belgium for products which do not qualify as “Belgian chocolate”. By way of exception, a product, for which it is possible to demonstrate historical links with Belgium, can have the denomination “Belgian flavor”, “Belgian tradition”, “Belgian recipe”, “Belgian style”. This can only be at the back of the packaging, provided that it does not give to the consumer the false impression that the product actually originates from Belgium. For instance companies who had its roots in Belgium long time ago, are only allowed to use the word Belgium on the back of their package. If not, consumers might have the impression that they purchase real Belgian chocolates which is not the case.
Even in Belgium we have cases of foreign imported chocolates, sold in Brussels, where the denomination ‘Belgium’ is abused.
Malpractice will always be part of this world but professionals and customers should thoroughly be informed about the real origin of the chocolates and the authenticity of their claims.
Written by: Hilde Van den Bossche, CEO