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Monday 25 May 2015


The “super league” of big-name Belgian chocolatiers is facing a new player in its ranks with the recent unveiling of specialist praline producer Pralibel’s restyling of its premium chocolate range.



Pralibel Belgium

Pralibel   Pralibel   Pralibel

Competitive Market

The quality praline and chocolate producer from the Jagershoek town of Vichte in Flanders has shown exponential growth in the last 15 years and has now reached a level of maturity where it is able to step up as a major player on the prestigious Belgian chocolate stage. In a fiercely competitive market in which Belgian companies export over one billion euros worth of delicious chocolate to a world market hungry for more, Pralibel has been able to make this move on the back of continued expansion and phenomenal success.

Fantastic Growth

Pralibel has shown rapid growth from its establishment in 1993. Since general manager Paul Sulmon and a dynamic team of entrepreneurs took over the established Deleu chocolaterie fifteen years ago, they have transformed it into a leading producer. The company has grown at an astounding rate, enlarging the size of its factory from 750m2 in 1993 to 15,000m2 in 2008 and increasing the number of people on its payroll five-fold in that time.


As production has risen to keep pace with demand, annual revenue has shot up to over 10 million euros from an initial one million euros in 1993. In 2005 Pralibel won the Gazelle prize for the fastest-growing SME in the food sector in Flanders over the past five years.

Quality and Flexibility

Sulmon attributes his company’s success to being able to strike a balance between artisanal and industrial production. Pralibel manufactures over 150 different top quality pralines in a semi-artisanal way. While chocolate-filling and finishing are done by hand, stateof- the-art machinery allows for high volume production and a swift response to customer orders.


The company’s machines are geared for smaller runs (e.g. 50kg) which facilitates flexible and diverse production. Forty different types of pralines can be produced in any one day and different ranges of pralines, chocolate figures and packaging are produced to customer specifications as part of Pralibel’s established private label business. At peak times they employ more than a hundred people with staff working longer shifts around the clock. Orders are dispatched from start to finish within seven working days.


With Pralibel’s fine chocolates made from 100% cocoa butter and new types of pralines and packaging being developed all the time, quality remains excellent. Hygiene and safety standards are particularly important and the company complies with strict HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) requirements. Certification is in accordance with the BRC (British Retailers Consortium) and IFS. Also, ERP-steered production ensures full traceability and stringent control mechanisms.


Pralibel   Pralibel   Pralibel


In a world market which is increasingly conscious of the environmental and social aspects of the food industry, Pralibel has introduced its own fair trade chocolate range certified under licence of the Max Havelaar Foundation. Paul Sulmon explains that the pressures of the chocolate industry often drive the market price of cocoa beans lower than the price of investments by producers, who live in poor developing countries, particularly in Africa.


To ensure more sustainable producer prices as well as better environmental and social effects, Pralibel has joined forces with producer organisations to ensure better prices for producers who comply with Fair Trade requirements. The resulting chocolate is then certified by the Fairtrade Organisation. Pralibel’s fair trade label won the 2006 Co-op “Fairtrade Product of the Year” award in the United Kingdom.

Export Drive

France has traditionally been the most important export market for Pralibel but their premium chocolates are now exported within the ‘better channels’ to 40 countries and are present in the markets of Scandinavia, Great Britain, Eastern Europe as well as China. Sulmon explains that the restyling and repackaging of Chateau Blanc, their established premium brand for traditional gourmet chocolate boutiques, as ‘Pralibel: Belgian Chocolatier’ has provided extra impetus to the export drive. Further momentum has been created by the launch of Pralibel’s own modern specialty store in Bouillon in the Belgian Ardennes.