Catalan cake, chocolate and sweets world reinvents itself for an international market

Thanks to a new generation of creative professionals, the confectionery sector in Catalonia has experienced a boom despite the economic crisis. Chocolate makers are particularly recognised internationally, with upfront names such as Oriol Balaguer and Enric Rovira.

CNA / / Sarah Garrahan

December 3, 2010 07:59 PM

Barcelona ( Despite the economic crisis, the Catalan confectionery world is experiencing a creative boom. The success is being attributed to a new generation of professionals, such as Oriol Balaguer, Enric Rovira and Lluís Estrada, who have put creativity and international recognition as top priorities.

The Catalan tradition of making sweets is helping the sector through the economic crisis. Confectionery professionals are creating innovative tastes and textures for consumers to enjoy. The region’s many tourists are appreciating the high-quality treats. Many tourists enjoy a taste of local confections almost immediately, as it is customary to find complementary chocolates on hotel nightstands. Chocolate is also becoming popular as a souvenir, partly because it travels well but also due to the prestigious chocolatiers of the region. Names like Oriol Balaguer, who has stores all over the world, or Enric Rovira, who offers his creations in airports and tourist stores, are becoming recognised on an international level. “We are currently in a renegotiation phase because airports are always changing management and you have to talk with them again. We carry a box called ‘Barcelona Postal’ that includes chocolates in the shape of sidewalk tiles from the Eixample neighbourhood as well as images from the city. At the moment, it works. This is what is being told to us by the various tourist stores we have throughout the world”.

They say that times of crisis are also times for opportunities, time to rethink the what and the how, time to reinvent and relocate yourself. This is the philosophy of Lluís Estrada of Barcelona’s Pastisseria Canal. The bakery was recently awarded with the Tàstum Prize for the most innovative bakery. “Our sector needed renovation even before the crisis. In fact we have not been as affected by the current economic situation as others. On the other hand, we did experience a crisis because our job has been associated with something negative. You may have noticed that ‘bunyol’ (Catalan doughnut) means something bad (In Catalan, ‘this is a bunyol’ means ‘this is badly done’), and that in Spanish, they say ‘vaya pastel!’ (‘what a cake!’, an expression meaning ‘what a disaster’). We had to liven up and do it little by little. The prize we won for innovation included various aspects: in product, technicality, new sales formulas and communication. For example, I had the idea of ‘Eat the Art’. Plastic artists created pieces that we later made into sweets and exhibited to the public.”