Belgium’s presence at the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai has been an enormous success. The Belgian pavilion was the seventh most visited at the Expo out of a total of 254, and the number one in terms of turnover. This unanticipated success is in large part due to the wildly popular Belgian Chocolate Corner, which attracted an average of 40,000 visitors a day to its live demonstrations. The numerous Belgian visitors also expressed their pride and satisfaction with the quality of the exhibits.
The project has reached and exceeded the goals set at the beginning of the year. The Belgian praline has been very firmly planted on the map in China thanks to an unprecedented collaboration between the four major partners (Godiva, Neuhaus, Guylian and Barry Callebaut) and the 70 chocolatiers, not to mention the enormous media attention for the project.
Kris Dooms, project manager for Belgian Chocolate Corner, said: “We handed out 645,120 pralines, which means that one out of ten visitors received a praline from the Belgian Chocolate Corner. Without a doubt, the Belgian Chocolate Corner was one of the top attractions at the Expo.”
The Belgian chocolatiers, who could be seen in action right throughout the Expo, gave the Belgian pavilion a dynamic dimension that set it apart from the attractions at the Expo. The chocolatiers have been overawed by the enormous public interest in their work and themselves. They were treated like genuine VIPs everywhere they went and were in high demand for photographs. For them, this has undoubtedly been an unforgettable experience and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Nicolas Bouve, managing director of Godiva Europe, said: “Participating in the Shanghai World Expo together with our partners has been a tremendous success for Godiva at a time when we are opening new boutiques in Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen (a total of nine by the end of 2010). Our presence here has played an important role in increasing our brand awareness amongst Chinese consumers, inspiring them to purchase our delicious chocolates when travelling abroad at airports and, of course, in Belgium.”
Mieke Callebaut, marketing and sales director at Guylian, stated: “Being one of the four key partners at the Belgian Chocolate Corner has been an exceptional and highly successful experience for Guylian chocolates, giving us the opportunity to demonstrate our craftsmanship and share our exquisite Belgian chocolate with Chinese consumers and visitors from all over the world. The live demonstrations by our Belgian chocolatiers were a unique spectacle for the more than 40,000 visitors to pass through the Belgian Chocolate Corner every day. Sales of Guylian chocolates set records of which we could only dream when first committing to this project. We are very grateful for the support and commitment of the organisers in making this event such a great success.”
Jos Linkens, managing director for Neuhaus, said: “Neuhaus has been pleasantly surprised by how well Belgian chocolate has been received in Shanghai. The Chinese have clearly developed quite a taste for our high-quality chocolates. The incredible sales figures we booked during the Expo as a result lead me to believe there are many opportunities for introducing even more Chinese to high-quality chocolate products and to further developing the market. It has also been positive to witness the successful collaboration between the different chocolate brands and between individual chocolatiers and the larger companies. This may indeed prove to be a good opportunity to reinforce the position of Belgian chocolate even further in the future.”
Patrick Haupthenne, vice president food manufacturers North Europe at Barry Callebaut, stated: “Barry Callebaut is immensely proud to have played such a pivotal role in this ground-breaking project, bringing together three renowned Belgian Chocolate brands and giving 70 Belgian artisanal chocolatiers the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show the world the meaning of Belgian chocolate craftsmanship. While Barry Callebaut supplied all the chocolate that went into creating the more than half a million pralines distributed during the World Expo, the focus was less on sales and more on offering visitors an insight into the unique characteristics of Barry Callebaut chocolate as a base ingredient and the infinite possibilities it has to offer.”