Our Birthplace Across The Sea
Jules Bel began cheese ripening and trading in France’s Jura region. Following his death in 1904, his son Leon Bel took over the business. In 1921 Leon trademarked The Laughing Cow, and the tasty, affordable, portable potential of processed cheese was born. Completely new to France, it was unique in recipe, texture, and individual portion presentation.
Arrival In America
The Bel Group made its start in America by purchasing the Avalon Cheese plant in Leitchfield, Kentucky. Avalon Cheese became “Bel cheese,” and began producing cheddar by the barrel. The Leitchfield, KY plant began making The Laughing Cow cheese wedges in 1974 and never looked back, moving on to Mini Babybel waxed semi-soft cheeses.
Movement Further West
In 1974, top brand Kaukauna Cheese moved to its present facility in the Little Chute Industrial Park in Little Chute, Wisconsin. Bel maintained its Little Chute presence through to 1996, when Fromageries Bel and WisPride joined forces with Kaukauna Cheese to form Bel/Kaukauna U.S.A. in Little Chute.
Bel Brands USA moved its corporate headquarters from our manufacturing facility in Little Chute to Elk Grove Village, Illinois in 2006. In 2011, we moved to the heart of the business district in downtown Chicago, Illinois, where we’re headquartered today.
Planting Deeper Roots
Bel announced plans to build a new state-of-the-art Mini Babybel plant in Brookings, South Dakota in 2012 to meet the growing consumer demand for Mini Babybel in the US. Ground broke in July, and construction was completed in 2014 with nearly 250 new employees.
Looking To The Future
150 years after the Bel family adventure began, our success continues. Present in over 130 countries, backed by 12,000 employees worldwide and bringing smiles to over 400 million consumers, Bel ranks third worldwide in branded cheeses. The Bel Group aims to double its size by 2025, and Bel Brands USA is honored to be one of its strongest arms.