There are thousands of chocolate manufacturers across the world, but Mars Incorporated, Mondelez International, Ferrero Group and Nestle are three of the largest. Some smaller craft chocolate manufacturers include Amano Artisan Chocolates, Black Mountain Chocolates and Divine Chocolates.
Chocolate is the prepared product of cacao beans, which are the seeds of the cacao tree. Farmers harvest the seeds in order to ferment and dry them before shipping them to manufacturers for final processing. When a manufacturer obtains a shipment of cacao beans, the product is cleaned and inspected first, and then it is roasted and ground into a paste called chocolate liquor. From there, each manufacturer's proprietary recipe is then followed to create its signature chocolate treat.
Cocoa trees originated in Central America, where the crop is a valuable export. Production of the popular bean has spread globally, but it is still confined to an area that stretches no more than 10 degrees north and south of the equator, where the temperature is hot and humid. This area is sometimes called the Cocoa Belt or the Chocolate Belt.
Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia are three of the world's largest cocoa producing countries, totalling over 3 million tons of cocoa beans produced as of 2012, according to WorldAtlas.com. The same report projects the chocolate industry to reach $98.3 billion in revenue by 2016.