Italian Chocolate: Because Life is Full of Sweet Surprises


“Life is like a box of chocolates … You never know what you’re gonna get.”

 – Forest Gump

Italy is a potpourri of a wide range of high quality traditional food, eating habits and culinary styles. When we talk of Italian food, generally a delicious slice of pizza or a generous serving of pasta comes to mind. But, the country has carved a niche for itself in other culinary fields too and gourmet Italian chocolate tops the chart of ‘favorite foods’ loved, craved and enjoyed by the natives as well as the world!

Did you know that Piemonte, the second largest region of Italy after Sicily, is home to more master chocolatiers (chocolate makers) than France and Belgium combined? Or, the high concentration of chocolatiers in the region between Florence and Pisa has earned it the name of ‘Chocolate Valley’? From Nutella to praline truffles and from hot cioccolate calda (Italian hot chocolate) to chocolate biscotti, Italian chocolate varieties are to die for! Whether to delight kids or entice lovers, celebrate happiness or cheer up a dull mood, Italians chocolates are the solution to everything!

History of Italian Chocolate

Let’s go back in time. In 1606 A.D., Spain had already discovered cocoa beans and chocolate, but decided to keep the revelation to itself. Call it luck, an Italian trader, Carletti, was at the right place and at the right time. The first time he ate chocolate in Spain, he felt a sensation and immediately shared the secret of this warm, soothing, melt-in-the-mouth food item with his fellow Italian friends. What happened next is history! Soon Italy was taken over by a chocolate mania. The first chocolate shops opened up in Venice and soon one could find small Italian chocolateries in all major towns and cities. Perugia, in central Italy, became the capital of the Italian chocolate world and soon Italy introduced cioccolato (Italian for chocolate) to Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

Two centuries later in the year 1860, famous Italian confectioner Ghirardelli accidentally produced fat free and highly soluble cocoa powder. Three decades down the line, Francesco Buitoni, a family member the famous Italian pasta makers, started experimenting with variations of chocolates, and in 1922 discovered the world-famous ‘baci’ chocolates, each wrapped in a silver cover and containing a sweet love message. (For those who don’t know, ‘baci’ in Italian means ‘kisses’). And so bloomed Italy’s romance with chocolates – a love affair that continues till date and has the entire world in awe of Italian chocolate!

Modern Italian Chocolate Trends & Major Players

“Nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person always lies.”

– John Q. Tullius

Over the centuries, Italian chocolate trends have undergone a metamorphosis. The strong market position of Italian chocolate making companies can be attributed to the diversity and premium quality of their product offerings as well as the growing demands for authentic Italian chocolates in global markets. The use of Italian chocolate in modern culinary tradition has diversified substantially; leading bakeries and gelaterie (gelato shops) also use premium Italian chocolates in their recipes to diversify their product offerings.

The use of this “food of Gods” is not limited to the kitchen alone. The popular food item has found a new consumer segment; artists are using their innovation and creativity to mould Italian chocolate and create sculptures and showpieces too! From niche chocolate shops to retail outlets and from fine art corners to curio shops – Italian chocolate can now be found anywhere, in any form, design and shapes.

According to World Top Exports report of 2014, Italy ranked fourth in the list of world’s top chocolate exporting countries, beating Switzerland and France and exporting a whopping $1,713,893,000 (6.3%) worth of chocolate!

According to the 2014 annual Italian food trend report, Ferrero SpA continued its position as the numero uno player in the Italian chocolate confectionery market with a total share value of 34%. Second in line was Nestlé Italiana, with 15% total share value.

Amedei, Modica, Venchi, Peruginia, Caffarel, Baratti are some other regionally based Italian companies renowned all over the world for producing and exporting the finest quality Italian chocolates for generations. And by the way, what about Gianduiotto?

Global Recognition & Appreciation

There are several chocolate festivals held in Italy every year that highlight and promote the country’s age old tradition of chocolate making, and attract chocolate makers and connoisseurs from Europe and all corners of the world. Most noted amongst such events is the Cioccolato fair of Turin, the Eurochocolate Festival held in Perugia, Showcolate hosted in Naples, Chocobarocco and CioccolArt held in Sicily, Ciok in Rome and the Florence Chocolate Festival. 

If you wish to open your very own Italian chocolate shop in Europe, Middle East or anywhere else in the world, give us at DESITA a holler. We would love to discuss your shop concept design, branding and franchising ideas over some delicious Italian hot chocolate!

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