The history of Chocolat Frey AG is almost as old as the European chocolate industry itself. The traditional company played a significant role in the development of chocolate from an exclusive delicacy for the privileged few to a sweet pleasure enjoyed by a large part of the population. Since its founding in 1887, Chocolat Frey has evolved into a premium manufacturer of chocolate and chewing gum with international operations.
Robert and Max Frey
The two brothers Robert and Max Frey found the collective partnership R. & M. FREY in Aarau.
After just one year, the previously separate production sites on Balänenweg in Aarau are pulled together. Even then the machines were already powered with electrical energy.
Around the turn of the century the chocolate production is moved to the buildings of an old spinning mill in Telli in Aarau.
Even early on the company is characterised by quality products. At the start of the century the range comprises Frey chocolate bars, chocolate powder, soups and energy nutriments. The two latter products were later discontinued in favour of the pure cocoa products.
The company is converted into a corporation: Chocolat Frey AG.
Conche around 1918
After outbreak of the First World War, sales figures initially fall dramatically. But soon the situation calms in spite of difficulties with the import of raw materials. The demand for chocolate strongly increases in Switzerland over the following years.
In export, however, the sales figures completely collapse during the last two years of the war. In certain countries it is even prohibited; in others the regulations are so strict that deliveries abroad are foregone. Work in the factory is suspended on certain days.
After difficult times in the post-war years the chocolate market and the sales figures begin to recover.
Change of generation: Robert Frey Junior takes over as majority shareholder from his father Robert Frey and succeeds him on the board of directors. The company remains an AG (corporation), but maintains its family character.
Chocolat Frey celebrates its 50th company anniversary.
Chocolat Frey 1951
The Second World War is another difficult time for the company. As a consequence of Swiss mobilisation, many employees are drafted into military service. Furthermore, new import regulations for raw aterials severely limit the Swiss chocolate market. Production is just barely maintained.
Thanks to the significant economic recovery at the end of the Second World War the situation also improved for Chocolat Frey. In 1946, the idea to look for a partner is floated on the board of directors for the first time.
Chocolat Frey AG is taken over by MIGROS. It is the oldest acquired company of the MIGROS Group.
Due to the large demand for the chocolate from Aarau the plant in Telli becomes too small. That’s why the factory is extended and modernised.
Jowa AG, MIGROS’ own chocolate factory, which was founded in 1931 in Wald, Zürich as Jonatal AG and later relocated to Meilen, is moved again to Buchs / Aargau. In the early 60s, MIGROS built one of the most state-of-the-art factories for chocolate, confectionery and sweets there.
Chocolat Frey 1967
Chocolat Frey also moves from Aarau to the new production site in Buchs, in which the entire chocolate, confectionery and sweet production of MIGROS is from now on amalgamated into Chocolat Frey AG.
Chocolat Frey begins production of chewing gum and therby realizes the desire of MIGROS to produce its own chewing gum. To this day, it remains the only chewing gum manufacturer in Switzerland.
The factory in Buchs is expanded for the first time. A fully air-conditioned seasonal storage for holiday products for Christmas and Easter is put into operation.
Chocolat Frey becomes the largest chocolate manufacturer in Switzerland.
The topic of environmental protection becomes more prominent. Chocolat Frey begins to acquire distance heating from the nearby refuse incineration plant and, since then, requires hardly any heating oil. Plus, the company receives a railway connection to the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), allowing it to switch to environmentally friendly rail transportation.
Chocolat Frey celebrates its 100th company anniversary.
The export business develops pleasingly. With the largest own brand customer abroad, Marks & Spencer in England, a turnover of 10 million Swiss Francs is exceeded for the first time.
Chocolat Frey obtains the ISO 9001 certificate. The official presentation takes place in the presence of customers, suppliers, press and personalities from politics and business.
Skai packagings 1997
With a celebratory opening ceremony, the hitherto largest expansion project in the company’s history is inaugurated. The «confectionery» extension in Buchs is opened for 70 million Swiss Francs, which, thanks to the use of state-of-the-art technology, greatly increases production capacity.
The «Chocolat Frey goes international » project begins with the goal of expanding exports.
After intensive development work on new recipes, Skai chewing gum is introduced.
A major fire at the MIGROS distribution centre in Volketswil destroys 40 per cent of the entire MIGROS Easter range shortly before delivery to the branches. Only thanks to the enormous effort of employees, suppliers and even competitors is it possible to again produce the entire quantity of Easter rabbits in an emergency production.
Certification as per IFS (International Food Standard) and BRC (British Retail Consortium).
Abroad, chocolate from Buchs is once again sold under the brand name «Frey».
Chocolat Frey decides to begin a sustainable project in Ghana, one of the main countries of origin, from which it processes cocoa beans. It finances the construction of twelve family homes in the SOS Children’s Village in Asiakwa and has guaranteed the annual running costs of the house since then.
As a consequence of the environmental measures implemented over an extended period of time, the company receives the environmental certificate as per ISO standard 14001 and thereby obligates itself to a careful use of resources.
Chocolat Frey acquires cocoa from the international programme «UTZ Certified», which fosters the cultivation of cocoa according to socially and environmentally friendly criteria.
Chocolat Frey launches the «Schokogramm ». Via the internet, a message filled with a bar of chocolate can be sent anywhere in the world.
Chocolat Frey celebrates its 125th company anniversary.
Opening visitor centre
Certification as per FSSC 22000 (Food Safety System Certification), which replaces the BRC certificate.
Takeover of SweetWorks Inc. Buffalo, NY, and Oak Leaf Confections Co. Toronto, Canada.
Opening of the new visitor centre, in which an adventurous and sensory journey around the world of chocolate awaits the visitors.
Since April, chewing gum can be designed with photos, texts or symbols in the myskai webshop and shipped together with a greeting message.