The Bel Group, based in the 8th district of Paris, manufactures and distributes processed and semi-processed cheeses, frequently packaged in individual portions. The company “Établissements Jules Bel” was founded in 1865 in Orgelet in the Department of the Jura.
“The Laughing Cow”, “Babybel”, “Kiri”, “Leerdammer”, “Boursin” are Bel’s five core brands that are distributed on five continents. As of 2011, the Bel Group is established in 31 countries and its products are sold in over 120 countries.
- 1865: Creation of “Établissements Jules Bel” in Orgelet (Department of the Jura).
- 1921: Registration of the brand “The laughing Cow”.
- 1929: Bel creates its first subsidiary in the UK.
- 1933: Creation of a subsidiary in Belgium.
- 1947: Launch of “Bonbel”.
- 1950: Acquisition of “Port Salut” created in 1816.
- 1952: Launch of “Babybel”.
- 1959: Creation of a subsidiary in Germany.
- 1960: Launch of “La vache qui rit” unflavored cocktail cubes. (that will become Apéricube in 1976).
- 1965: Creation of a subsidiary in Spain that will become Bel España. (Bel Spain).
- 1966: Launch of “Kiri”.
- 1967: Creation of a subsidiary in the Netherlands that will become Bel Nederland (Bel Netherlands).
- 1968: Les Fromageries Picon join the Group.
- 1970: Creation of a subsidiary in the USA.
- 1972: Acquisition of the company Samos. Launch of Sylphide.
- 1973: Acquisition of Crowson in the UK, that will become Bel UK and creation of a subsidiary in Switzerland that will become Bel Suisse (Bel Switzerland).
- 1974: Creation of a subsidiary in Morocco that will become SIALIM.
- 1976: Integration of the “Société anonyme des fermiers réunis"(SAFR) and its subsidiaries into the Bel Group.
- 1977: Acquisition of an Italian company that will become Bel Cademartori. Launch of Mini Babybel.
- 1978: Acquisition of a company in Sweden that will become Bel Sverige (Bel Sweden).
- 1989: Acquisition of the company Adler in Germany that will become Bel Adler (Edelcreme).
- 1990: Launch of “Mini Bonbel”.
- 1991: Acquisition of the company Maredsous in Belgium.
- 1994: Acquisition of the company Cademartori in Italy, which became Bel Cademartori in 2001 and of the company Queserías Ibéricas in Spain.
- 1995: Launch of “Pik & Croq’”. Creation of “Pick and Mix” with the launch of “6 au Choix”.
- 1996: Acquisition of the company Lacto Ibérica in Portugal (Limiano, Terra Nostra) and the company Kaukauna in the USA that will become Bel Kaukauna.
- 1998: Creation of a subsidiary in Egypt (Bel Egypt) and acquisition of Middle East Food Industry that will become the Bel Egypt Food Company. Acquisition of Kraft Chorzele in Poland that will become Bel Polska (Bel Poland). Launch of yellow “Mini Babybel” in Maasdam.
- 2000: Acquisition of the company Zeletavska Syrarna in the Czech Republic (Zeletava, Apetitto) and of the company Zempmilk in Slovakia (Karicka).
- 2001: Creation of a subsidiary in Algeria (Bel Algeria).
- 2002: Acquisition of the assets Merkts and Owl’s Nest by Bel Kaukauna in the USA. Acquisition of Syrokrem in Slovakia. Creation of subsidiaries in Greece (Bel Hellas Cheese Company) and in Tunisia (Bel Tunisia). Termination of SAFR’s soft cheese production. Acquisition of the companies in the Dutch Leerdammer Group and its European subsidiaries based in Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Belgium and the Czech Republic.
- 2003: Termination of activities of Manchego of the Bel subsidiary Queserías Ibéricas.
- 2005: Termination of activities carried out under the Cademartori brand. Creation of a subsidiary in Syria (Bel Syria).
- 2000: Acquisition of Fromagerie Boursin from Unilever.
- 2009: Change of logo.
Bel Group Brands
- Apéricube (PartyCubes, Belcube, Cheese&Fun) (1960)
- BabyBel (1952)
- Bonbel (1947)
- Boursin (2007)
- Karper (2006)
- Kiri (1966)
- Leerdammer (2002)
- Port Salut
- Régal Picon
- Smetanito / Želatava
- Terra Nostra
- The Laughing Cow (1921)
- Le Véritable Port Salut (1950)
Bel's corporate foundation
Bel’s Corporate Foundation was created in May 2008 by the Bel group and its reference shareholder, Unibel. The Bel Foundation was created to promote a balanced diet and preserving the environment, as far as it is required for a healthy diet. Rather than support big initiatives, the Foundation supports a number of projects around the world.
The Bel Corporate Foundation is led by two committees: the Board of Directors and the Selection and Project Follow-up Committee. The Board of Directors defines and guides the Foundation’s strategy and examines funding applications twice a year. It is made up of representatives of the Bel and Unibel founders, employees and quality controllers. The Selection and Project Follow-up Committee, made up of employees and outside persons, analyses and selects projects that answer the Foundation’s criteria throughout the year. The Selection and Project Follow-up Committee presents these projects to the Board of Directors, follows up the projects that have been approved by the Board of Directors and ensures that they are implemented.
Lab’Bel is Bel’s Art Laboratory, inaugurated in the spring of 2010, and sponsored by the Group and its main shareholder, Unibel. Heading up Lab’Bel are artist Laurent Fiévet, a member of the Bel family, and Silvia Guerra, an art critic and exhibit curator.
Since its founding, Bel has had a tradition of artistic outreach, particularly towards graphic artists, including illustrators Benjamin Rabier, who designed the Laughing Cow, Francisque Poulbot, known for his iconic drawings of Parisian children, and celebrated animator Paul Grimault.
Bel sponsors a museum dedicated to its legendary cow – La Maison de La vache qui rit (The Laughing Cow Museum), in Lons-le-Saunier – which also houses special events hosted by Lab’Bel.
Lab’Bel supports contemporary art through a variety of actions.
The Art Laboratory has three main missions: to assemble a collection of works, created exclusively in the year 2000 and beyond, that correspond to Lab’Bel’s philosophy and thematic focuses; to organize events and art exhibits; and to guide projects in the medium-term by supporting artists in their production processes (study tours, networking, etc.).
The first exhibit sponsored by Lab'Bel, Rewind, was held in 2010 and brought together a series of contemporary works on the theme of childhood.