Showcasing sustainable SMEs (1) Chocolate

Kreuzlingen, 3 April 2013 Companies, big and small, are increasingly implementing sustainable initiatives.  Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) do this despite the financial and knowledge obstacles they may face. In this series the WRF showcases interesting examples from across the globe.

One of such environmentally friendly companies is chocolate producer “Chocolat Stella Bernrain” – an independent, family-run Swiss business with an international outlook. This enterprise employs ca. 150 people in two locations Kreuzlingen (Chocolat Bernrain) and Giubasco (Chocolat Stella).

This SME differentiates itself by not only producing specialty chocolate products but also by sustainable use of resources right along the supply chain as well as innovation.

The company is publicly showing its commitment to sustainability:

“We care for the environment, as we are well aware of the impact our actions can have on our climate and territory. As an organic and Fair-Trade certified producer, we are convinced that sustainability brings social, environmental and economic benefits for all of us. We consider protection of the environment as an integral part of our commitment to a better World. Our company is among the most ecologically oriented chocolate manufacturers in Switzerland. In our Kreuzlingen facility, we have implemented since 1982 a unique water and energy recovering system. This commitment of our company toward the environment results in some significant figures related to our energy consumption in comparison with the average consumption of the Swiss chocolate industry. The foreign energy consumption of our company is 22% lower than the average of the Swiss chocolate industry. Drinking water is saved up to 96%.”









Illustration 1. Heat recovery plant.  This reduced the previous consumption of mains water by 98%.  In this closed circuit the same water was circulating for 25 years.

Illustration 2. Biodegradable foil made from wood used for chocolate packaging

In 2012 the company received “My Climate” certification and started using biodegradable foilmade from sustainable harvested wood. This year (2013) energy at Chocolat Stella is provided by using ground water and heat recovery. Moreover, the instalation of the photovoltaic plant is ongoing and in summer 2013 Chocolat Bernrain is able to use own produced  sun energy.

Besides this, the company has received various certifications showing their engagement to environment as well as Social Responsibility (Fair Trade).

Social Responsibility of this small enterprise can be seen in their contacts with suppliers. Chocolat Stella Bernrain is giving a lot of importance to building a long lasting relationship with e.g. cocoa providers. This is seen for example by trainings given by Swiss specialists to the communities harvesting the cocoa crops and other initiatives helping the locals.

APPTA cooperative, Costa Rica

–           Cooperative founded in 1980  (1000) members

–          Organic and fair-trade certified

–          Chocolat Stella Bernrain is helping with the establishment of a nursery and the construction of a new drying plant

IOFPCL cooperative, India

–          Founded in 2004, the largest organic cooperative in India (2500 members)

–          Organic and fair-trade certified

–          Chocolat Stella Bernrain helps by running training courses in India and Switzerland

All the activities described have obvious advantages i.e. savings on energy and water as a result of using heat recovery plant, brand differentiation and gaining competitive advantage

Thanks to various certifications and complying with norms, as well as having qualified workforce that due to various trainings and community development programs can works more efficiently and delivers the best results while their living conditions improve.

Consequently, thanks to all these initiatives, the company is striving towards sustainability in its full dimension, this is, combining three aspects – environmental, social and economic. Balance between these three spheres is crucial, and should be widely promoted and as this business case shows, it is viable and easier to reach than it seems. In each company, there is a place for improvements that may lead to sustainability and give numerous benefits.

To get more information about Chocolat Stella Bernrain please visit:

Please feel free to send us more examples of Sustainable SMEs worth spreading!

Contact: or