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.
By 2021, Belvas will have 3 production sites.
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.
• 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.
• 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.
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.
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.
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:
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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