How did I come up with my list of chocolate, cookie and candy
companies to visit? One way was by going into supermarkets and
checking the aisles displaying the above mentioned goodies. I
spotted a bag of caramel chews and noted the makers name; Choco-Diffusion
S.A. I also noted they were based in Le Locle, the town high
in the Jura Mountains where I'll be visiting watch companies.
In an industrial park located on a hillside near the edge of
Le Locle, population 11,000, is where I find the two-story building
housing Choco-Diffusion. I mailed a letter of introduction a
month earlier to Jean-Willy Bihler, General Director, but he's
not here today. Luckily, Linda Audot, Export Manager, agrees
to answer questions. Founded 20 years ago by Bihler, about 25
people work here with that number rising to 70 later in the year
when help is hired for the busy holiday season.
Choco-Diffusion markets Swiss "tourism" products such
as milk cans filled with pieces of chocolate or miniature Swiss
backpacks stuffed with chocolate. Novelty items like these are
sold in Switzerland as well as exported to other countries like
France, Germany, Australia and Japan. The company itself doesn't
manufacture the chocolate but contracts it out.
There's not much to report as the only thing I see is Audot's
office. A large warehouse occupies the first floor with offices
on the second. Parking is plentiful, smoking isn't allowed in
the workplace, there's no formal dress code and it's two hours
to Geneva's airport. I can't see Bihler's office because "he's
not here". Normally chocolate companies like to show off
their product lines and load my bike down with goodies. That's
not the case here as I leave empty-handed and without seeing
a single product.