Chocolate business booming for Whittaker's but not expanding to Dunedin

While Cadbury plans to stop making chocolate in New Zealand, business is booming for local rival Whittaker's.

It’s expanding its premises in Porirua, north of Wellington, but has no plans to take over Cadbury's soon-to-close Dunedin factory.

The newest of Whittaker's five production lines produces 120 250gram bars per minute. That’s two per second, for two shifts each day.

A quarter of Whittakers' chocolate is sold overseas, to Australia, Southeast Asia, China and North America. 

Whittaker's export manager, Matt Whittaker, wouldn't disclose its revenue, but business is clearly booming.

"Those Asian markets and North American markets are very exciting for us. We're seeing really good growth and subsequently we have to expand, buying property next door," he told Newshub.

"We're very committed to Porirua. We've only got one manufacturing site and it's here."

So how do New Zealanders compare when it comes to chocolate consumption?

"We're fairly big, about 4-5 kilograms per head of population per year," said Mr Whittaker.

In comparison, consumers in the United Kingdom chomp through 10kg each year, with the Swiss the chocolate champs at 12kg, while Chinese consume just 167g each per year.

Whittaker's employs 160 staff at its fourth-generation family business.

Flavours are often driven by suggestions on social media.

"We always aim to respond to every comment," said assistant marketing manager Jasmine Currie.

Marketing manager Holly Whittaker said they're spoilt for choice with ideas.

"We've had bacon and chocolate, popcorn, anything salted is on trend at the moment, but also the blend of sweet and savoury ingredients together," Ms Whittaker said.

Whittaker's collaborations with artisans both here and overseas, like those seen in its new 'Destinations Collection', are seeing the greatest growth.