Strengthening Chocolate-Making Expertise and Promoting Innovation
“We are aware of the national and international importance of the Swiss chocolate industry, which is why we have a long-term commitment to safeguarding Switzerland’s position as a center of excellence for chocolate making,” emphasized Ernst Tanner, President of the Foundation’s Board, back in 2013 when the Lindt Chocolate Competence Foundation was established.
The charitable foundation aims to safeguard Switzerland’s position as a center of excellence for chocolate making over the long term, further consolidate Swiss chocolate-making expertise, and promote sustainable innovation. This means that industry-relevant training of specialists and supporting young professionals are also important to the foundation. Among other projects, new chocolate production and process technologies are being researched in cooperation with universities and academic institutions. The foundation’s main project is the Lindt Home of Chocolate. This chocolate museum will serve as an interactive information platform for the general public and focus on all aspects related to chocolate.
More than 100 million Swiss francs have been invested in the one-of-a-kind Chocolate Competence Center located on the factory premises of Lindt & Sprüngli at Schokoladenplatz 1 in Kilchberg. With the grand opening of the Lindt Home of Chocolate in September 2020, this milestone in Swiss chocolate history became a reality. More than 350,000 chocolate fans from Switzerland and all over the world are expected to visit every year.
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Chocolate Destination Kilchberg - Switzerland
The new building in Kilchberg is not only significant for specialists and chocolatiers in-training but also for visitors from Switzerland and abroad. It is the home of the renowned Master Chocolatiers, who are now opening their doors to let visitors immerse themselves in a unique world of chocolate. Along with a research facility and the show production, the Lindt Home of Chocolate also includes an interactive multimedia exhibition with seven focal areas that covers around 1,500 square meters and presents topics such as Cocoa Cultivation, History of Chocolate, Swiss Chocolate Pioneers and Chocolate Production. Chocolate fans of all ages will learn fascinating facts about chocolate on the tour, such as how cocoa is cultivated and the history of chocolate while discovering a few secrets about the way chocolate is produced. And all chocolate lovers can look forward to a very special treat: A tasting area with a variety of delicious Lindt pralines awaits them at the end of the exhibition.
The impressive building of the Lindt Home of Chocolate also contains the world’s largest Lindt Chocolate Shop, the first Lindt Café in Switzerland as well as a Chocolateria for chocolate-making courses. With the help of the Lindt Master Chocolatiers, visitors can prepare their own individual chocolate creations during a course. One of the most spectacular highlights is the chocolate fountain in the entrance hall with over nine meters. Located in the immediate vicinity of Zurich and with excellent transport connections from the city, this new attraction at the historic Lindt & Sprüngli headquarters is set to become an exciting destination for 350,000 chocolate fans from Switzerland and abroad each year. “Not only the municipality of Kilchberg and the region of Zurich, but also the whole of Switzerland and our industry will benefit from the irresistible appeal of the museum, and the chocolate experience worlds will fascinate all visitors,” says Ernst Tanner, President of the Lindt Chocolate Competence Foundation’s Board.
The excavation work for the new building started in early 2017. A total of 133,590 tons of earth were removed to create a building pit the size of a football field. Just a few months later, on September 12, 2017, the Lindt Chocolate Competence Foundation invited the guests to the foundation stone laying ceremony for the immense building. In addition to the Board members of the Lindt Chocolate Competence Foundation, the president of the municipality of Kilchberg and numerous media representatives, around 100 other partners and guests climbed into the pit to symbolically fire the starting gun for the building’s construction by burying a “time capsule” in the foundation. During the ceremony, Ernst Tanner filled the capsule with a bar of chocolate produced according to the original recipe from Rodolphe Lindt and an annual report from 2015 – the year in which the planning application was submitted. In addition to the best wishes offered by employees, other symbols such as the building plans and a current newspaper were also added to bring good luck for the rest of the construction process.
Around 1,000 days later, in November 2019, the general contractor commissioned with the construction work officially handed over the building to the Lindt Chocolate Competence Foundation as part of a symbolic handover of keys. Until the official opening in the fall of 2020, the interior design and layout of the multifaceted experience worlds will be completed.
A Highly Advanced Facility for Future Chocolate Pioneers – the Pilot Plant at the Lindt Home of Chocolate
With the Lindt Home of Chocolate, the Foundation is providing the wider public with a unique museum that offers a comprehensive information platform on all matters concerning chocolate. In the interactive exhibition covering 1,500 square meters, chocolate lovers both young and old can find out all sorts of interesting facts on cocoa growing, the history of chocolate and Switzerland’s chocolate pioneers. The museum also provides a glimpse into some of the secrets of chocolate making, while the highly advanced, open-view production plant allows exclusive insight into the inner workings of a chocolate factory. The ‘pilot plant’ is a centerpiece of the museum and awards visitors an exclusive opportunity to view state-of-the art chocolate production in progress. Importantly, the high-tech plant also leads the way in future chocolate making, as it serves specialists as a research facility.
"Pilot Plant" for the Chocolate of the Future
After more than five years of planning and preparation, the highly complex research facility was successfully brought into operation at the beginning of 2020. The facility combines maximum flexibility and functionality with highest quality implementation and is available to chocolate producers and research institutes as well as universities. The plant features a flexible molding line, which visitors to the Lindt Home of Chocolate can marvel at during their tour, as well as an additional production line for chocolate mass. This enables professionals to develop recipes on a small scale and simulate the optimization of production sequences and process technologies – factors that are important to the whole of the chocolate industry. Thus, the Lindt Chocolate Competence Foundation is taking a proactive stance in fostering the innovative strength of the entire industry, while also providing an ideal infrastructure for sector-specific further education and the advanced training of specialists. For the visitors, however, the highlight is the impressive open-view production taking place in the so-called molding line. Here, the making of a filled chocolate square can be followed step by step. To further enhance the experience, the various technologies, sensors and process stages are highlighted and explained in detail. Specially devised animations even provide insights into a chocolate casting tool or illustrate how the finely modulated alternating cooling and heating of the chocolate ensures a perfect taste experience for the consumer. After packaging, which consists of a highly advanced storage facility, three robotic arms and the tubular bag machine, visitors are of course offered a taster – to personally convince themselves of the product quality.
Advanced Engineering for Chocolate Masterpieces
A team of 50 experts worked for months to ensure the highly flexible plant could be launched on time. In addition to the seamless chocolate production, visitors are therefore also offered a special chocolate creation. More than 40 interfaces had to be aligned to ensure the various plant components, control systems and building services communicate correctly and to guarantee smooth operation. After all, the machine produces and packages no less than 7,000 Lindt Squares per hour – that amounts to 56,000 Squares per museum day. The advanced construction allows both solid, unfilled chocolate Squares to be created, as well as products with one or even two types of filling. For this, around 1,000 molds simultaneously circulate through the individual process steps on the machine. The rear section of the open-view production facility additionally contains an equally impressive line for cocoa mass production. This exclusively serves for experimenting with various technologies, at a production volume of five to 200 kilograms.
The facility also represents an important contribution towards instruction and training provision for specialists from a variety of fields and different companies. The pilot plant enables experimentation and training sessions to be carried out on a relatively small scale, without greatly interfering with ongoing production. This offers trainees, such as food technicians and system supervisors, an ideal preparation for the generally much larger plants they will be in charge of. The minimizing of waste is a positive side effect of the comparatively small production volume. The opportunities are promising and the first projects with start-ups and scientists from Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) have already gotten off the ground.