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La Dolce Vita

Jasmine Alimin
Jasmine Alimin • 8 min read
La Dolce Vita
Marco Galimberti invites you to savour a little piece of Italy in every bite of Venchi’s gourmet chocolates.
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Marco Galimberti invites you to savour a little piece of Italy in every bite of Venchi’s gourmet chocolates

If you are a chocolate aficionado, you would be familiar with the name Venchi and its centuries-old mission to bring sweet joy to our palates with its gourmand creations. One of the oldest chocolate brands in the world with a rich history dating back 1878, Venchi is the brainchild of Italian native Silviano Venchi. Just 20 years old at the time, Venchi moved to the small town of Turin to learn the art of chocolate artistry starting out as a humble confectionery worker.

Very quickly, he established himself as one of the best in the city and 35 years later, he became the owner of his own chocolate factory with over 200 workers.

He then opened Venchi Spa, a chocolate boutique deemed “the most elegant shop in Piedmont” where he sold his best-selling Nougatine bar, an irresistible candy made of crushed and caramelised hazelnuts coated in dark chocolate.

In 1909, Silviano was decorated with the Order of Merit for Labour for his “expertise, iron will and exceptional dynamism”. After a life dedicated to chocolate, the highly-respected confectioner passed the baton onto his nephews who were instrumental in globalising the brand to where it is today.

In October 2004, Venchi’s Chocoviar was awarded the prestigious Vassoio D’Oro (Gold) Award at the EuroChocolate festival in Perugia. And for two years running (2007 and 2008), Venchi was honoured as the Ambassador Par Excellence for Italian products by the organisation for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Chocoviar Maxi Egg

The Venchi recipe

Using the best raw materials and applying them to recipes which have never been altered by chemical processes or preservatives are the key points of Venchi’s success. For the production of the various chocolates, Venchi uses cocoa originating from plantations in Central and South America and Africa, and distilled rum and natural vanilla from the Caribbean. Piedmont hazelnuts are favoured over others as they are claimed to prevent the chocolate from tasting acidic.

Over the last 140 years, the company’s chocolate artisans have created over 350 chocolate recipes and 90 gelato flavours, based on a “Buono Buonissimo” rule where all ingredients must be 100% natural, everything is gluten- and palm oil-free, and less sugar is used.

It offers everything from pick-and-mix individually wrapped chocolates to maxi bars, Gianduiotti truffles, gift boxes, spreads, hot chocolate and gelato, with plenty of options for vegans.

Today, Venchi can be enjoyed in over 145 boutiques in over 70 countries in key cities like London, Hong Kong, Dubai and New York, which boasts the biggest chocolate waterfall in the world. More recently, the chocolatier landed in Berlin, Shanghai and Tokyo in 2019 opening café-inspired chocogelateria boutiques where people can live a true Italian experience: beauty, joy, conviviality and quality excellence.

Success through joint ventures

Venchi APAC managing director Marco Galimberti says this year’s focus is to open over 30 more boutiques across Asia, Europe and the US. If things go according to plan, it is possible that Venchi will open 100 new stores in five years, including its first airport location outside of Italy in Shanghai.

All this has been made possible through successful joint ventures with companies in the respective markets that share Venchi’s vision of sparking joy to those that have a passion for chocolates. “Asia will continue to be the focus in the coming years thanks to our key strategic partners — Mitsui in Japan, Bluebell Group in Singapore and Malaysia, and PT Asia in Indonesia — who have been instrumental in helping us expand our footprint on these shores,” Galimberti says.

In 2019, Venchi reached the milestone of a 100 million Euro annual revenue turnover. Unfortunately, it was near impossible to maintain double digit growth in the last year due to the global crisis. “We look forward to returning to pre-crisis levels thanks also to the speedy recovery of the Asian markets. We foresee Greater China will grow to high double digits thanks to the rollout of new stores. The goal for us is to increase the sales globally by 50% in the next three years,” he adds.

Options catches up with Galimberti to find out a little more about Venchi’s best-sellers and delicious gift ideas for Easter.

Assorted pralines and hazelnut cookies

What type of chocolate is Venchi known for?

The undisputed star of all our most iconic chocolates is the delicious Piedmont Hazelnut, which is also the main ingredient of our Gianduja (chocolate spread). We use this incredible recipe in all its forms: Gianduiotti, chocolate bars, gelato and our Suprema XV spread with extra virgin olive oil. In 2020 we launched our special Gianduia No.3 chocolate spread which has an intensely creamy taste without any milk, and uses only three ingredients — chocolate, raw cane sugar and Piedmont Hazelnut.

What is the most soughtafter chocolate in Venchi’s repertoire?

Definitely Gianduitto and Nougatine filled with Piedmont Hazelnut, Bronte Pistachios or Sicilian Almonds. Our most popular gelato flavours are pistachio, dark chocolate and cremino.

Tell us a fun fact about Venchi that few know about?

During the Salon du Chocolat which takes place in Paris, GB Mantelli, the creator of all Venchi recipes, went to eat in a luxurious restaurant on the rooftop of Centre Pompidou where he tried a very expensive aubergine caviar. GB immediately thought that chocolate was perfect to create a precious caviar…and this is how our iconic Chocoviar cocoa pearls were born!

Who are your most famous customers?

Chiara Ferragni often visits our City Life boutique in Milan with her son to have a treat, a crêpe or a gelato. In London, Gwyneth Paltrow who is a regular at our boutique in Richmond especially loves our Gourmet Gelato cone. In China, Zhao Liying bought a white rabbit when she gave birth to her baby, and Rocket Girls101 member Yamy bought gelato in our Sanlitun store and was photographed by fans. In Hong Kong, we have celebrities like Jackson Wang, Qi Qi, Simon Wah, Karena Lam, Anita Yuen, Gigi Ma, Aimee Chan, all coming sometimes to enjoy chocolate and gelato in our store.

Tell us what 2020 was like for the company?

Last year was really challenging but we didn’t stop investing. We made important steps towards digitalisation and upgrading our global information systems we call the Chococloud project. Our retail growth has been led by the APAC region with many new prestigious openings even in this difficult year.

What would you consider is the biggest achievement for Venchi in the last year?

To us, entering new markets like Japan in 2019 and Indonesia and Taiwan in 2020, means bringing a little moment of joy to new customers. And now that it’s harder to travel, it’s even more important for us to bring a small piece of Italy to them. I would say that the biggest achievement was to be able to keep the pace of openings and keep our hiring of new talents stable and in line with our plans. We managed to open our first store in Taipei, all remotely from Hong Kong, thanks to the extraordinary effort of the local team in Taipei.

Can you share more about your joint ventures in Asia?

This June, we officially start a joint venture with the Bluebell Group in Singapore and Malaysia to expand in these regions. The reception in Indonesia has been overwhelming through the partnership with PT Asia; we will open two new stores in two key locations in Jakarta. We will also continue to expand in Japan, Mainland China and Taiwan, as well as upgrading our network in Hong Kong. We are also evaluating further expansion in Korea and Australia in coming years.

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How do you stay current and up to date with consumer trends?

In Venchi we are all very passionate about chocolate and we always taste new recipes and ingredients during our travels around the world. GB Mantelli, our chocolate innovation officer, is the true creative soul of the company. He is constantly inspired by local ingredients, pairings and scents, to create new surprising chocolate recipes. For example, the new matcha chocolate is a tribute to Japan, but we added an Italian touch of pistachio and lemon. How often do you launch new flavours? In our boutiques, you can taste a new gelato flavour every month, and on average we launch more than twenty new chocolate products per year. We also create special gift box collections dedicated to festivities like St. Valentine, Lunar New Year, Easter, Mid-Autumn Festival and Christmas. September is when we present all our new chocolate novelties so stay tuned for a really exciting new product family!

Venchi Easter 2021 collection

So, what’s in store for Easter?

This year we celebrate Easter with a collection inspired by the vivid colours of spring and nature’s rebirth. In our boutiques, you will find our Gourmet Eggs that hide delicious salted dried fruit, almonds or slightly toasted Piedmont Hazelnuts. The novelty for this collection is the Mediterraneo egg: a white chocolate filled with pistachio grains and lemon zest.

Easter Mediterraneo gelato

Venchi is available at Marina Bay Sands, Paragon and Takashimaya.

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