A bit of history

One hundred and fifty years of history have shaped the selection of exceptional cheeses available in Canada.

French origins and family history

In 1865, Jules Bel established a comté cheese ripening and trading business in the Jura region of France. Following his death in 1904, his son Léon took over the business. In the aftermath of the First World War, the nascent cheese industry flourished in France and Léon Bel foresaw the potential of processed cheese as a tasty, affordable product that’s easy to carry and preserve. As a result, he embarked on a manufacturing venture, founding the Fromageries Bel corporation in 1922.

A visionary, Léon Bel trademarked The Laughing Cow® brand in 1921, creating an all-new product with an original recipe, a soft texture, an individual portion presentation, a triangular shape and distinctive packaging. With the extraordinary, iconic brand created by famed animal illustrator Benjamin Rabier, Léon Bel, a marketing trailblazer, demonstrated his innovative approach to communications by creating a unique bond between the brand and its consumers.

Today, The Laughing Cow® has become a worldwide institution and been joined by other iconic brands that have since been launched or acquired. The descendants of Jules Bel continue to preside over the future of the family business.

Current CEO Antoine Fiévet represents the fourth generation of the family business.

International ambitions and Canadian roots

As early as 1929, the year the first foreign subsidiary was established, Bel Group was a pioneer in the export of cheese.

In Canada, The Laughing Cow® made its appearance in 1956, Boursin® in 1978 and Mini Babybel® in 1985.

In 2005, the company definitively established roots here by creating its Bel Cheese Canada subsidiary, which spurred the development of the Group’s operations across Canada and implemented a local production strategy.