The historic Avianense chocolate factory, founded in 1914 in Viana do Castelo, was revitalized and gained a new life. From this renewed breath was born, in December 2015, the Avianense Chocolates Museum. It is a cultural and interactive space that tells the history of the brand and the universe of the emblematic chocolates for generations, like the Christmas fantasies, chocolate umbrellas or the bonbon Imperador.
‘Avianense’ is the oldest Portuguese chocolate factory that has been active in the last 100 years, having started its production in 1914.
Avianense results from the conjunction of article ‘A’ with the adjective ‘Vianense’. It is not clear when this ‘merger’ took place, but even before the 1950s the name emerged in company communications.
The history of the creation of the factory stems from the experience acquired as a worker at a Chocolates factory in Cangas (Spain) by António José Rodrigues de Lima, together with his friend João de António Felgueiras, who in January 1914 founded the chocolate company ‘Avianense’.
In the small original factory about thirty kilos of chocolates were produced daily, distributed in 12 different products according to the commercial tables of the time.
The publicity of the time announced that this brand had a formula of very advanced production, identical to the one that was better manufactured in Madrid or Barcelona.
At the end of the visit participants can learn how to make their own chocolates
Avianense ‘s products were very appreciated due to their quality and innovation from the outset, so that demand has risen exponentially, and the time has come for the modernization and expansion of the facilities through the construction of a factory from the beginning. Taking advantage of the opportunity to acquire a plot of land in front of the site where they worked they founded the Felgueiras & Lima Commercial Society with a new investor, Dr. Vieira de Araújo, in Viana do Castelo, on April 20, 1921, dedicated to the chocolate manufacturing industry.
With an avant-garde project of the architect José Fernandes Martins, the construction of the Avianense Chocolates Factory was started this year. New machines were purchased in Germany through a Spanish importer and a new production method was established to control all chocolate processing, from the purchase of the cocoa beans to the final product, sold in-stores and distributed throughout the country.
Museum of Avianense chocolates
Over 100 years of history have not happened easily. They demanded the enormous dedication and effort of hundreds of people for a common purpose. Creating a museum that tells this story has become the natural step that honors all those who have contributed to the Avianense legacy. In the museum it is possible to find a close and lively account of the successes and griefs that Avianense has faced over the decades. At the end of the visit, participants learn to even make chocolates.
Luciano Costa, Administrator
After the Avianense chocolate factory was declared bankrupt by the Judicial Court of Viana do Castelo on 24 September 2004 due to debts of 2,155 million euros, the State was the largest creditor claiming 1,142 million euros related to the IRS, VAT and the Social Security.The Avianense brand, as well as the company’s equipment and fleet, were sold by Luciano Costa who, in August 2005, started from “zeroing” and resumed the manufacture of chocolates from the premises of a factory of confections in Durrães, in the municipality of Barcelos, of which he was owner.
The centennial Avianense chocolate brand was “reborn” in Durrães with a new factory and a Chocolate Museum, an investment of 1.5 million euros that contributed greatly to the economy and to the generation of jobs. “We will be closer to Viana, that is, 100 meters from the river Neiva, which is the beginning of the county, on the border with Barcelos,” explained Luciano Costa about the location of the factory.
The current Avianense plant has a production capacity of 500 kilograms of chocolate per day. “We fulfilled the dream of recovering a centennial brand, creating jobs, producing quality chocolates for a more demanding market and betting on our history and our culture,” he said. “It was a good deal I did at the time. Thank God, every year billing has been increasing, “Luciano Costa added proudly.