Fans of small Belgian delicacies could not miss Choco Story. This family business, which has been established in the heart of Brussels for over 20 years, is increasingly committed to sustainability. Indeed, between inclusiveness and awareness of environmental issues, the chocolate museum demonstrates that efforts towards sustainable transition are possible despite the pandemic.
Choco story, above all a family story
In 2014, Peggy Van Lierde took over the museum created by her mother in 1998 and joined forces with the Van Belle family, owners of the Choco Story Museum in Bruges. This collaboration gave a new impulse to the museum, which moved to the Rue de l’Etuve and was completely renewed. The more spacious infrastructure gives more space to the collections but also to interactivity in both the installations and the scenography. In parallel with the museum activity, fun workshops will also be developed, giving visitors the opportunity to slip into the shoes of a chocolatier.
A museum for everyone
The strength of chocolate is that it appeals to a very wide audience, regardless of generation or nationality. It was therefore important for Peggy Van Lierde to make the museum accessible and inclusive.
Housed in a listed building, the museum often faces many limitations. However, the new infrastructure has allowed for the installation of a lift and staircase platforms to enable visitors with reduced mobility to access the entire museum.
For the deaf or hard of hearing, the audio-guide is transcribed in its entirety on paper. In addition, a videoguide will soon be developed, co-created with a deaf person. Her contributions to the project have already been filmed and are currently being edited. This service will be available from this summer.
Every year, the museum also offers activities in the framework of ‘Place aux Enfants’ and ‘Vakantieparticipatie’, structures that give disadvantaged people easier access to culture. The museum also hosts a number of children’s playgrounds and schools at preferential rates.
A helping hand for the environment
Although the health crisis has slowed down Choco Story’s efforts in terms of environmental sustainability, the company makes it a point of honour to limit its energy consumption as much as possible and continues to raise awareness of sustainable management among its staff.
It’s hot cocoa!
In addition, Choco Story has decided not to put blinkers on and to treat the subject in an educational manner. Indeed, the working conditions and environmental impacts of cocoa production can be catastrophic. There is therefore a room in the museum dedicated to the sustainability and good practice aspects of cocoa production. The museum highlights how many cocoa pods and beans are needed to create a kilo of 60% cocoa dark chocolate. With this approach, Choco Story wants to highlight the work behind these little chocolate treats and make visitors aware of the price of a good chocolate by encouraging them to make a responsible purchase.
In addition, during the demonstrations and tastings at the museum, Choco Story works with 100% sustainable chocolate that carries the Cacao Trace label, which allows the cocoa growers to generate a much higher income than the market.
Is investing in sustainability worth it?
According to Peggy Van Lierde, there is no doubt that investing in sustainability is worthwhile. However, it is essential to assess the relevance of the costs involved, especially in these times. However, these investments have a snowball effect: they attract a new, environmentally conscious clientele and at the same time increase the company’s reputation thanks to its responsible image.
Written by Adeline Maes 03 May 2022