Dunedin chocolate factory step closer after $2 million crowdfund campaign

Dunedin's new chocolate factory has moved a step closer to opening, after a successful $2m crowdfunding campaign

The Otago Chocolate Company (Ocho) has signed a lease for a site near the waterfront, as Cadbury prepares to leave the city.

The former industrial building beside the harbour is set to be transformed into a busy chocolate factory, after being confirmed as the new home of Ocho. 

Ocho director Jim O'Malley says craft chocolate is a little different to what it's replacing, with Cadbury closing. 

Mr O'Malley led the crowdfunding campaign to develop a local chocolate factory, after international giant Mondelez decided to close Dunedin's Cadbury factory and move production to Australia.

"The quintessential outcome that I wanted was to make sure that someone was here, manufacturing at a factory level."

The campaign to fund Ocho expansion proved a sweet success. More than 3500 people bought shares in the venture, raising the $2m in little more than a day.

"I'm really, really happy that so many people bought shares, because they all have a sense of ownership of it and they are owners of Ocho," says general manager Liz Rowe.

"But there's still some way to go to meeting the demand for craft chocolate that there is in New Zealand and we will be looking at export." 

The company currently produces 90kg of craft chocolate a week from a small site in Vogel Street.

That'll increase tenfold, once new equipment arrives from Italy.. and there's plans to expand further, as Kiwis' taste for premium chocolate grows.

"I feel that we're at the same point as when New Zealand switched from Cold Duck to good wine," Mr O'Malley says. "We're actually talking about probably a taste change that's coming across in the market now." 

The new factory is expected to be up and running later this year, with tours and a cafe also planned, as Dunedin rebuilds its chocolate reputation.