Sustainable supply




Location: Ghislenghien, Belgium

Sector: Manufacturing – Transformation / Sales and services

Date of creation: 2005

Analysis by the association: March 2018

Maturity of the project: lasting

A fair, organic and ecological chocolate !


The Belvas chocolate factory was created in 2005 by Thierry Noesen.

All the ingredients used to make the chocolates are processed in a traditional way, without the addition of preservatives, dyes, or flavors, without hydrogenated fats and without GMO. No chemicals are used and most of the products comes from organic farming, ensuring the well-being and health of producers, employees and consumers. The company also produces fair trade chocolate, providing a fair income to cocoa farmers and is proud to have the FairTrade, Max Havelaar and Bio labels. Production is carried out through 4 production lines and consists mainly of pralines, truffles and broken chocolate (thins).

Their cocoa, fully traceable, comes mainly from Peru (3 cooperatives) and Santo Domingo (1 cooperative) in Ivory Coast. Since November 2017, the company has been established on two sites: Ghislenghien and Antwerp, Belgium.

  • 700 tons of chocolate per year ;
  • 22 full-time employees and up to 60 in peak season ;
  • 10 millions euros of turnover ;
  • 396 solar panels, for an area of 1500 m² ;


By 2021, Belvas will have 3 production sites.

  • Sustainable supply
  • Responsible consumption

project operation

The 3 pillars of chocolate processing :

Project 1 : grow an old cocoa essence with a light raspberry taste, while guaranteeing a price of 4000 $ / T to the producers.

The goal is to tell a story about this chocolate. The range is recent and has just been launched.

Project 2 : Perform part of the cocoa processing on-site (roasting and grinding), in order to reduce the mass transported by 20%, by removing the shell. This system will reduce transportation-related pollution and create on-site jobs by co-investing in a local project. In addition, the shell could be used as fertilizer for cocoa plantations rather than being sent in biomethanizers in Belgium.

Project 3 : create a nursery with seedlings of ancient varieties of cocoa.

Project 4 : Offer a chocolate bar at the right price.

The difference between the market price (purchase price of cocoa) and the fair price (estimated at $ 3500) will be paid directly to local cooperatives in the Côte d’Ivoire thanks to UNICEF. This chocolate will also guarantee that there are no children among the workers. The aim is to make producers aware that they have to diversify their production with food crops in order to cope with the vagaries of the climate and the strong fluctuation of the chocolate market.

European legislation on organic products allows 3% of non-organic material in the final product, but these materials must still be part of the list of authorized elements. The company works without lecithin and produces a fully organic chocolate.

Today, only 4% of the cocoa market is oriented towards organic bean production.

Belvas has implemented several environmental actions in order to have a greener production, optimizing waste management and energy consumption.

Waste management

• Reduction of the volume of waste by avoiding waste at source, by increasing the number of collection and sorting channels (ex: recycling plastic stretching around pallets) and increasing purchases of recycled and recyclable materials (eg future development bioplastic packaging, biodegradable);

• The chocolate waste is valued by biomethanisation.

Energy consumption

• Use of the energy produced by their 396 solar panels. If the needs are greater than the production, they feed only on green energy. On the contrary, if the energy produced is not immediately consumed then it is resold on the network.

• Reduction of energy consumption in their processes and creation of optimal systems for the recovery of dissipated energy. The company has developed a powerful cooling and heating system:

The cooling system, which is necessary for the production of pralines, produces heat. This heat is recovered and used to heat water, useful for melting chocolate praline.

sustainable approach

    • Reduction of their energy consumption (-30.6% between 2015 and 2016) and water thanks to optimal production systems and processes;
    • Green energy consumption: their consumption has increased over the years (exception in 2016);
    • Reduction of their carbon footprint by reducing their waste, recycling, recovering the losses of chocolate by biomethanation as well as reducing the mass transported by carrying out part of the roasting on-site .

Table 1. Evolution of some environmental performance indicators between 2013 and 2016

The turnover amounts to 10 million euros against 6 million in 2016. It is during the 4 months of high season, from September to December, that half of the turnover is achieved.

  • Producer remuneration at the right price, going even beyond the fair trade price
  • Creating local jobs by roasting locally
  • Combating forced labor and child labor in Côte d’Ivoire
  • Supporting producers to diversify their crops to ensure stable income.

replicability & future perspectives

The numerous actions implemented by Belvas could be taken up in other industrial processes. It is mostly about adapting the manufacturing process, specific to each company, to minimize energy and water consumption and to reduce the production of waste. Belvas has demonstrated that ecology goes hand in hand with economics.

  • Achieving environmental objectives while developing production: the increase in production volumes leads to a decrease in the consumption of solar energy per tonne of product and the percentage of photovoltaics in total consumption (Table 1).
  • Further reduce CO2 emissions: according to the 2013 carbon footprint, 58% of emissions come from the transport of goods, and knowing that chocolate is produced internationally, some journeys seem difficult to reduce.

Several projects mentioned above are under development. In addition, a third production site will be created by 2020-2021. In the basement, there will be production and storage, and offices will be located above to optimize energy consumption.


Max Havelaar¹ = Fair Trade, supported by the FairTrade and Max Havelaar labels, improves the living standards of small producers:

  • A guaranteed minimum purchase price of $ 2,000 / T of certified cocoa beans (or market price if higher)
  • A development bonus set at $ 200 / T for community, productive and environmental investments is paid regardless of the market price level
  • Promoting sound farming practices (good management water and waste, maintenance of soil fertility, no GMO, minimal use of chemical inputs, etc.)
    Prohibition of forced labor and child labor.

Shell² = A pod contains between 25 and 30 cocoa beans. The beans consist of an almond surrounded by a shell, once roasted they will lose this shell. It is the almond that is used to make chocolate. 

Lecithin³ = Emulsifier used to improve the homogeneity of the ingredients. Lecithin can be extracted from egg yolks as well as cereals (sunflower, soya, etc.) whose origin and production conditions are sometimes poorly known (GMO, etc.).  

Class II4 = Non-hazardous and non-inert waste (plastics, metals, varnish sludge, filter materials, etc.).

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