Antwerp, chocolate port for The Belgian Chocolate Group

Wednesday 20 12 2017

“The roots of The Belgian Chocolate Group are 100% in Antwerp,” says CEO Marc Pauwels. "Walter Gartner started in 1945 with a small chocolate shop in the city. It was so successful that in the 1950s he formed a limited company and built a factory in Borsbeek. It was this company that I took over in 1996 and renamed The Belgian Chocolate Group. The port of Antwerp plays an important part in this success."




















Antwerp, a centre for chocolate

"In the meantime we have grown into an internationally famous producer of chocolates. The fact that we were able to expand like this in Antwerp is not a coincidence. The port of Antwerp is one of the most important in the world for imports of cacao beans. In fact a whole industry has grown up around storage, quality control and onward distribution of cacao. For The Belgian Chocolate Group this expertise is our guarantee of a regular supply of high-quality cacao. But just as importantly, via the port we can export our products to more than 100 countries around the world."




The challenges of transport

"However, this transport has its own challenges. The chocolate must be kept cool, and it has to arrive on time in the shops, for instance in time for the festive season. With the rise of container freight we sometimes find that our transport can't depart exactly when we want. In that case we have to go via Hamburg or Rotterdam, which in turn means a loss of time. If the port of Antwerp is not able to keep expanding to meet the growth in demand then it will be more difficult for us to get our products to their destinations on time."


"In our three sites in Wetteren, Olen and Herentals we have 155 permanent employees, and during peak period we have additional temporary workers. Then there are suppliers, and of course the people in the South Kempen Workshops who pack our chocolates. In the wider Antwerp area that represents another 100 people who benefit – directly or indirectly – from the success of cacao in the port."



In this monthly section, Antwerp Port Authority features an entrepreneur (male or female) for whom the content of a container is of economic importance.