Whittaker’s sweet time in Porirua
When Cadbury changed its recipe several years ago, competitor Whittaker’s Chocolate became an overnight sensation.
As media attention turned to its competitor, Whittaker’s simply held on to its family-owned company status and continued to produce good chocolate at its Elsdon factory.
Holly Whittaker – a fourth generation Whittaker – said consumers had a reason to try the product and that when they did they stuck with it.
‘‘Our sales shot up overnight. We actually had one moulding line that was sitting at 20 per cent capacity and within a couple of weeks it was at 100 per cent,’’ Whittaker said.
She also said that its market share went up 30 per cent and that the company had maintained that level since.
Cadbury reduced the size of its blocks and moved its manufacturing base to Australia.
Whittaker said those decisions helped Whittaker’s.
‘‘We’ve continued to grow and you can count on us not to change.’’
The chocolate company was established by James Henry Whittaker in 1896 and today remains as Kiwi as pineapple lumps.
It recently launched a range featuring ingredients sourced from producers around New Zealand and the Pacific.
The artisan collection was released on May 18 and includes flavours such as Kaitaia Fire Chili Pepper, Marlborough Sea Salt and Caramel Brittle, Hawke’s Bay Braeburn Apple with Heilala Vanilla and Single Origin Samoan Cocoa.
Whittaker said with so many fantastic artisan producers on its doorstep, it seemed a natural step.
‘‘We also have a lot in common with the producers – many are family-owned and operated, and all are dedicated to creating the finest quality produce.’’
The artisan collection project took about 10 years to perfect and she said several crazy flavours were trialled, but only the good combinations persevered with.
Whittaker said there was a pride in producing new products and another limited edition block will be launched in July.
Following the New Zealand theme and following on from the L&P and Hundreds and Thousands blocks, it is rumoured the next Whittaker’s creation will be a jelly tip block.
Whittaker’s started in Christchurch in 1896 and moved to Wellington in about 1913. Production was moved to Porirua in 1969. The factory at Elsdon has expanded greatly over the past 46 years.
When Whittaker’s moved to Elsdon, it had only a small range that included toffee milk, k-bar, peanut slab, and the sante bar. Today that range has expanded markedly.
The company has more than 100 employees, many from Porirua.