Villars is located in Fribourg, a beautiful area that is known for its traditional dairy farms. Due to its exceptional milk, the region is a major cheese producer and home to several chocolate manufacturers.
“Milk that is produced in the canton of Fribourg is authentic, pure and natural,” says Isabelle Larfeuille, Deputy General Manager. “It is sourced from farms where traditional breeding methods are used. These farmers feed their cattle with hay and fresh grass only, and this guarantees the authentic milk taste.”
Authenticity, tradition and quality have always played a pivotal role for Villars. The company was founded by Wilhelm Kaiser in Villars-sur-Glâne in 1901. From the very beginning, only the best ingredients have been used to produce the most tempting chocolate – chocolate that was even appreciated by many royal courts in Europe.
The cow on the company’s logo was created in 1928, and is still Villars’ trademark today. “Wilhelm Kaiser was a visionary entrepreneur with a quality-driven business approach,” states Ms. Larfeuille. “He was always on the quest for something new and innovative, something different that sets his products apart. He had exceptional ideas and visions, and achieved them with outstanding success. He regularly introduced new products that were second to none, and it did not take long before Villars was recognized as a pioneer in the market.”
One of Villars’ pioneering products was chocolate filled with liqueur, introduced in 1935. Villars was the first to offer liqueur chocolate due to its complex manufacturing. In 1970, ongoing product diversification allowed the company to launch its famous Swiss Whips (Choco Köpfli) before following a new strategy: back to the roots.
In 2001, Villars revived an old family recipe and presented it as Chocolat au Lait à l’Ancienne – still a highlight of the broad product portfolio. Eight years later, Villars introduced chocolate sweetened with stevia – another milestone.
We only use the best ingredients to create unique flavours – ingredients that are mainly sourced within Switzerland. Isabelle LarfeuilleDeputy General Manager
“We were the first chocolate producer to use this natural sweetener,” points out Ms. Larfeuille. “In the past, stevia was mainly known as a beverage sweetener. Again, Villars was a pioneer when launching chocolate containing it.”
Today, Villars presents the most diverse varieties of chocolate – dark, milk and white chocolate, chocolate sweetened with stevia, Swiss Whips, chocolate filled with liqueur and napolitains. They may vary in taste, but they all have one thing in common. “We work with the finest ingredients to create an unforgettable flavour,” underlines Ms. Larfeuille. “In 2017, the Swiss government introduced tighter rules for the ‘Made in Switzerland’ label. For food products, 80% of the raw materials must be sourced within Switzerland and production must also take place in the country. For us, those new rules have never been an issue as we have always cooperated with selected local suppliers. 100% of the sugar we use is sourced in Switzerland as is 100% of the milk. And we produce 100% of our product in Switzerland. The cocoa beans are roasted in our factory in Fribourg. We use only Swiss sugar from sugar beet grown in Switzerland. Liqueurs are sourced from Swiss distilleries: apricot and Williams pear from Valais, cherry from Zug, and Absinthe from Val de Travers. Each ingredient results in a specific taste; the individual flavour of a chocolate even depends on the region the milk comes from.”
The range Les Laits Suisses is the perfect example. The three chocolate bars in this range are made with milk from a specific region: milk from Lucerne has a characteristic freshness; milk from Bern has a milky, melt-in-the-mouth quality; and milk from Fribourg tastes creamy and caramelized.
Villars chocolate products entice buyers not only with their taste. They are beautifully designed and come in the most appealing gift boxes or packaging solutions. “The bars are truly picturesque,” states Ms. Larfeuille. “They display a Swiss landscape and are designed with a love of detail.”
Villars has a genuine passion for chocolate – a passion that is appreciated by chocolate aficionados all around the world. Today, the company has 140 employees and an export share of 65%. The Swiss chocolate is sold in 60 countries in Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia, through wholesalers and duty-free shops.
“We only use the best ingredients, work with local suppliers and benefit from vast expertise and knowledge that is handed down from one generation to the next. We constantly watch out for new product developments that capture the spirit of the times – and of Switzerland. The Swissness idea still offers great potential, and we are thrilled to seize those opportunities. We are still relatively small. We cooperate with a passionate team of true chocolate lovers. These are perfect conditions to continue creating exciting and authentic products,” concludes Ms. Larfeuille.