The chocolate consumption

From the cacao bean to the chocolate bar

by Rahel Künzle, Shana Nieth

The chocolate production in Switzerland

Different types of chocolate
Different types of chocolate

In the course of the 16th century, chocolate came from America to Europe. In the 17th century the chocolate production in Switzerland began. In the second half of the 19th century, Swiss chocolate spread abroad. Switzerland revolutionized through the invention of conching. The invention of milk chocolate by Daniel Peter was equally important. The most important and influential factories include Cailler, Lindt, Frey and Sprüngli. In 2016, 185,639 tons of Swiss chocolate were sold. This generated an industry turnover of 1,764 million. 65 % of the chocolate produced is exported abroad to over 140 different countries. [1]


The water consumption

It takes 27,000 liters of water to produce one kilo of cocoa beans. The cocoa bean needs the most water for it’s growth of all plants. For comparison: With the same amount of water, almost 34 kg of apples can grow.

Approximately a third of the water consumption is used for transport and storage. Extrapolated to the chocolate production in Switzerland, this means that over 2.5 trillion liters of water are used only for chocolate production.

Many people are not aware of the enormous consumption of resources. The cocoa bean in particular needs lots of water. [2]

The process from the bean to the chocolate bar

The production of chocolate
The production of chocolate

After importing the cocoa bean, the cocoa beans are roasted at temperatures from 100° to 160°. The beans are then crushed in grinders. The fat of the cocoa bean comes out and combines the fragments into a liquid cocoa mass. Then, depending on the desired product, it is mixed with sugar and milk powder. Then the chocolate mass is conched. This means that it is heated to 90° and stirred. After about 8 hours, the delicate, liquid mass is poured into preheated molds. After cooling, the chocolate can be removed from the mold. In order for chocolate to last for a long time, it must be stored dry, airtight and refrigerated. The storage temperature should be between 12 and 20° and should not fluctuate. [1][3][5][4]


What does this path mean for the energy consumption?

The amount of energy that is required for the manufacture, transport, storage, sale and disposal is called gray energy. In Switzerland, gray energy primarily corresponds to non-renewable energy such as oil and coal. The amount of “grey energy” consumed in chocolate in Switzerland is 2.5 kWh. Converted into heating oil, this is approximately 2.5 dl of heating oil, since ten kWh correspond to approximately one liter. [6]

The Cocoa Cultivation in Kerala, India

by Elizabeth Lisson

Everyone likes chocolate, it is a usually sweet, brown food prepared from its main ingredients roasted and ground cacao seeds along with sugar, cocoa butter etc.

In Kerala (, cocoa is cultivated about 15,894 hectares in 2016-17. The crop is now cultivated in an area of 10,708 ha with an annual production of 6100 tonnes and a productivity of 685 kg/ha.

Cocoa Trees in my home village: Elanji Village, Ernakulam District, Kerala, India. (self-made)

Cocoa is a tropical crop grown under equitable climate with well distributed rainfall. In majority of the regions, where cocoa is cultivated, a high but often unevenly distributed annual rainfall occurs, resulting in fairly well defined dry and wet seasons.

Cocoa fruits (click to enlarge)

These seasonal changes exert marked effects on the growth of cocoa tree and on its cycle of flushing, flowering, and fruiting. Shade studies on cocoa indicated progressive increase in yield (with the use of chemical fertilizers) and progressive decrease in vegetative growth with decreasing levels of shade (Nair et al.,1996).

From this it’s clear that change in climatic conditions in Kerala effects the growth of cocoa which is one of the main ingredients for the preparation of THE CHOCOLATE.

Health Benefits of Chocolate

Chocolate has become a popular food product that millions enjoy every day, thanks to its unique, rich and sweet taste.
But what effect does eating chocolate have on our health? Here are some key points about Chocolate:

Chocolate consumption has long been associated with conditions such as diabetes , coronary heart disease, and hyper tension. Chocolate is believed to contain high levels of antioxidants (if you do not know what terms like “antioxidants” mean just double-click and search with our Quick Box!). Some studies have suggested chocolate could lower cholesterol levels and prevent memory decline. Chocolate contains a large number of calories.
People who are seeking to lose or maintain weight should eat chocolate only in moderation. Chocolate receives a lot of bad press because of its highfat and sugar content. Its consumption has been associated with acne, obesity, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and diabetes.

However, according to a review of chocolate’s health effects published in the Netherlands Journal of Medicine, it’s not all bad news. The key ingredient in chocolate contains biologically active phenolic compounds.This has changed people’s views on chocolate and it has stimulated research into how it might impact aging and conditions such as oxidative stress, blood pressure regulation, and atherosclerosis.

Chocolate’s antioxidant potential may have a range of health benefits. The higher the cocoa content, as in dark chocolate, the more benefits there are. Dark Chocolate may also contain less fat and sugar, but it is important to check the label.

Eating chocolate may have the following benefits:

  • lowering cholesterol levels.
  • preventing cognitive decline.
  • reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems.

Here are some sample nutrient levels in Light and Dark Chocolate

Nutrient Light (100g) Chocolate Dark (100g) Chocolate
Energy 531 kcal 556 kcal
Protein 8.51 g 5.54 g
Carbohydrate 58 g 60.49 g
Fat 30.57 g 32.4 g
Sugar 54 g 47.56 g
Iron 0.91 mg 2.13 mg
Phosphor 206 mg 51 mg
Potassium 438 mg 502 mg
Sodium 101 mg 6 mg
Calcium 251 mg 30 mg
Cholesterol 24 mg 5 mg


Black and white chocolate
Black and white chocolate

The darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of cocoa, and so, in theory, the higher the level of antioxidants there will be in the bar.

However, nutrients vary widely in commercially available chocolate bars, depending on the brand and type you choose. It is best to check the label if you want to be sure of the nutrients.

Unsweetened chocolates and 100-percent cocoa products are available for purchase online, and at some grocery and health food stores. [7] [8]




To sum up with we think that many People are not aware of the enormous consumption of water and other resources for the production of chocolate. Especially the growth of the cacao bean needs lots of water. Furthermore the transport and production need a lot of “grey energy” [embedded or embodied energy], which are often forgotten.

Even though chocolate isn’t really healthy, there are still some healthy benefits for example the reduction of the cholesterol level.

For our project we wanted to visit a chocolate factory and therefor we requested some local factories [name of local factories in progress]. Unfortunately we got only refusals because of different reasons, sometimes we didn’t even get a response.

This is the work of: Rahel Künzle, Shana Nieth and Elizabeth Lisson

Some interesting references/sources:

The production of chocolate
The water needed for one bar of chocolate

List of references we used:

[1] The chocolate production in Switzerland
[2] Water consumption
[3] The chocolate consumption in Switzerland
[4] The cultivation of cocoa beans
[5] From the bean to the bar
[6] Graue Energie / Embodied energy (
[7] Cocoa plantation (
[8] Health effects of chocolate (

This text was checked by Julia Hartmann

On-topic posts on
Water supply in agriculture
How much energy is embedded in agricultural products?

☷ See the project teams here »
☵ Some words about the contributions »

6 thoughts on “The chocolate consumption

  1. Hallo Rahel und Shana
    Danke für die spannenden Infos – liefern sie aber nicht mehr Fragen als Antworten? Wo und wann ist der Wasserbedarf wichtig und wo/wann praktisch nicht? Welche Anteile der Grau-Energie entfallen auf Produktion (Methoden?), Transport, Verarbeitung, Vertrieb, Verpackung/Entsorgung etc.

    Wenn euch auch Zusammenhänge für nachhaltige Produktion von Schokolade interessieren (keine künstliche Bewässerung und viel weniger graue Energie durch Verzicht auf Dünger etc.) wird das Lebenswerk von Ernst Götsch in Brasilien sehr spannend – wieviel Wasser wird wo und wann noch benötigt, wenn Kakao ohne künstliche Bewässerung im Regenwald angebaut wird wie bei Ernst Götsch – oder zumindest im Agroforst-Systemen wie bei Halba Schokoladen?

    Weiteres Beispiele für ein Denken in Ökosystemen und Stoffkreisläufen: der Film “The Biggest Little Farm”

    1. Hallo Daniel
      Vielen Dank für dein konstruktives Feedback. Unser Schwerpunkt lag nicht auf dem Thema Wasser.
      Die Frage wo und wann der Wasserbedarf wichtig ist, ist sicherlich noch ungeklärt.
      Falls du dich für das Thema Wasser interessiert, kannst du gerne bei der Gruppe mit dem Thema “Water supply in agriculture” vorbei schauen.
      Deine Links sind sehr spannend und aufschlussreich.
      Liebe Grüsse
      Rahel und Shana

  2. Hi Rahel and Shana
    I liked reading your Report! It is filled with background Information I am abel to understand very well. I was quite shocked to learn, that we need so much water for the production and transport of cacao beans and chocolates. Your summary is logical and gives a good overview over the most important facts and results of your research. Thanks to you two I will now enjoy my chocolates way more because I know how they have been produced.


  3. Hi

    What an interesting report! As I work in the transport business, I had already known the impact of the needed energy. However, I was totally surprised, how much water they need for the production.

    Kind regards,
    Lucas Hämmerli

  4. Hello Rahel and Shana

    Your project is very fascinating and it was very interesting to read it! 🙂 You have very exciting facts in your project which i didn’t know before, such as that it needs so much water to produce chocolate.
    It’s a little bit a shame that you couldn’t go to a chocolate factory but even though your result is very nice!

    Best wishes,

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