Francois Lenoir/Reuters

A large Swiss chocolatier that works with Hershey and Nestlé says it's rolling out 3D printed chocolate to the masses


The elaborately designed chocolates you see at hotels, coffee chains, and restaurants may soon be coming from a 3D printer.

In a statement Friday, the Swiss chocolatier Barry Callebaut said it could produce 3D printed chocolate at scale through its newly created 3D printed chocolate studio, Mona Lisa, which it says is the world's first.

The company said the studio was capable of printing thousands of pieces at a time with a "bespoke, hand-made appearance." It added that the service would initially be available in select European countries.

The basic idea is that pastry chefs could come up with their own designs that could more easily be produced at scale with a 3D printer for use in hot drinks, pastries, candy, and other desserts.

Barry Callebaut's innovation head, Pablo Perversi, described the studio as a "technological breakthrough innovation that positions the Mona Lisa brand at the forefront of the industry."

Though Barry Callebaut isn't a household name, it exerts a major influence on the global chocolate business, making chocolate for brands like Nestlé, Unilever, and Hershey while its logo takes a back seat on the chocolate-bar wrappers.

It's also the inventor of "Ruby chocolate," a pink-hued alternative to milk, white, and dark chocolate.

3D printed chocolate has been around for years, but it's not yet become widely available as adequate tech for mass production has failed to materialize.

Cocoa itself has become more expensive in recent years, at least in Europe. In global terms, though, the industry's outlook is brighter. The London-based market-research firm Technavio estimates the global chocolate confectionery market size will grow by $19.97 billion from 2019 to 2023, driven by innovative approaches to attracting new customers from the major chocolate manufacturers.