"It has always perplexed me why NZ could not make a name for itself in chocolate like the Swiss, since we have the milk par excellence, food technology and clean, honest brand."Featured comment
The Whittaker’s chocolate factory’s new Swiss-made 5-Roll Refiner passed the top political test during a visit by Prime Minister John Key.
The company, which is also in cabinet minister Hekia Parata’s local area, is in its fourth generation of family ownership since being established in 1896.
The original plant, established by JH (James Henry) Whittaker, was just off Manners St in Wellington. It was then mainly a confectionery producer, as chocolate was imported.
Local manufacturing did not begin until the mid-1930s, by which time Whittaker’s factory was in Vivian St, Wellington. Today’s modern factory was first built in 1969 at Porirua and the new equipment is the company’s single biggest investment.
Export manager Matt Whittaker says the company was delighted to host Mr Key and Ms Parata to discuss its growth, which has seen the Whittaker’s workforce increase more than 60% in the last five years.
“While we have expanded significantly, we have always been New Zealand-based because we love this country,” he says, “and we’re proud to be one of the largest employers in the region and an exporter of quality New Zealand produce.
“All our chocolate is produced here, and Whittaker’s is the only major chocolate manufacturer in New Zealand that controls the whole manufacturing process – from bean to bar.”
Whittaker’s 5-Roll Refined Fairtrade Creamy Milk chocolate is available in 250g blocks at the same price as the rest of the Whittaker’s range. It was recently promoted by Nigella Lawson in a Whittaker’s advertisement.
More can be read about Whittaker’s in the recently published book Passion For Chocolate (Random House, $37). Apart from a company history, it also includes dozens of recipes and cooking tips using chocolate.