Mr. Bensdorp visits Louviers

Sylvie Woltering-Valat
September 16, 2016

Mr. Louis Bensdorp, heir to the brand’s founder, visited our cocoa factory in Louviers to learn how Bensdorp cocoa is produced today and find out if it still tastes as delicious.

This summer we welcomed a very special guest as Mr. Louis Bensdorp (5th generation and last Bensdorp board member) visited the cocoa factory in Louviers on August 18th.

A lot of our heritage is rooted in our cocoa factory in Louviers, the home of the Bensdorp cocoa powders. When Bensdorp’s main factory in Bussum was closed in 2000, the Bensdorp heritage and recipes were transferred to the Louviers site. Did we manage to keep the Bensdorp DNA through the years?

After showing him around the factory and letting him taste our products, Mr. Bensdorp said he was impressed that the products still have the well balanced cocoa flavor and intense color of his time. This is possible when respecting the recipes and selecting the right bean origins. Although many things have changed, Mr. Bensdorp said that he could sense that we still share the same values: taking care of the employees, putting the customers first, and using our entrepreneurial spirit and innovation to grow.

Sylvie Woltering-Valat, global cocoa brands & marketing manager,

“Having welcomed Mr. Bensdorp to Louviers and listened to his anecdotes has helped make the link between history and today. With our shared values, we are on the right track to establish Bensdorp as the undisputed leader in premium cocoa powders.”

A bit of history

In 1840, after wandering through Europe to learn the profession of cocoa and chocolate maker, young Gerard Bensdorp started his own business in Amsterdam. Over the years, the company grew steadily, not only producing chocolate, but also sweets and peppermints. In 1884, a second factory was built in Bussum (Netherlands) that eventually would become the center of the company, opening sales offices and agencies all over the world, and building new factories in Kleve (Germany), Vienna (Austria), Genova (Italy) and Cape Town (South Africa).

During the visit, Mr. Bensdorp told us that what characterized Bensdorp at the time was the fact that it was a family run business with a very close relationship with its customers and an image of high quality. Key profit makers were unique products patented by Bensdorp such as Benco (a mix of cocoa powder and sugar, today produced and distributed by Nutrimaine in France and Mondelez in Austria), Bros (an aerated chocolate bar produced and distributed today under the brand name Aero by Nestle) and the Royal Dutch cocoa powder specifically created to conquer the US market.

From the beginning of the 19th until the middle of the 20th century, the Dutch cocoa and chocolate industry was famous all over the world, with names such as van Houten, Droste, Verkade and Bensdorp. By the middle of the 20th century, the industry began to struggle, partly due to international competition from much larger firms but also due to insufficient capital to invest in R&D, technology, capacity expansion, marketing and advertising. Companies went bankrupt, closed factories or were acquired by international conglomerates. This happened to Bensdorp when in 1973 it was acquired by Unilever, then later by Cacao Barry in 1985 and then Barry Callebaut in 1996.

When you are in Louviers next time, look around in the reception area. You will find a copy of the first letter of Mr. Gerard Bensdorp dated 1840 and the original tiles board of the Bussum factory.