Monday, November 06, 2006
Chocolate Supply Chain in Cologne
Last weekend I visited Cologne, Germany and during the trip I visited the Chocolate Museum or Schokoladeen Museum. Besides some tasty sweets, I had the opportunity to see an end to end chocolate supply chain from bean to retail. I had no idea on the complexity and the level of physical labor in making chocolate.
The machines at the museum only produce about 400 kg a day of chocolate, but you can quickly imagine a larger version of the process, which includes the picking, fermentation, shipping from South American farms to facilities in Europe and that is just the first few minutes. From there the chocolate is melted down and squeezed into, what look like ice cube trays, which are they shaken to level out and sent to the cooler. From there they are popped out (see photo) and sat on a conveyor belt to the wrapping stage. It was interesting to see how many pieces fall off the side into a gutter, which gets flushed every few minutes into a steel bucket, which melts the chocolate and sends it back to the beginning again. So no waste. From there they are wrapped up and hand packed into baggies, which are sold in the gift shop about 20 feet away.