6 Apr 2017

Chocolatier turns sights to Asia

3:02 pm on 6 April 2017

The local chocolate maker, Whittaker's, is targeting Asia's growing middle class for rapid overseas growth in the next few years.

Whittaker's Hawke’s Bay Braeburn Apple with Heilala Vanilla in 28% cocoa White Chocolate, from their artisan range

Whittaker's Hawke’s Bay Braeburn Apple with Heilala Vanilla chocolate. Photo: Whittakers

New Zealand remains its key market - accounting for 70 percent of sales - while Australia sits at 20 percent.

The company was focusing on Asia because of demand for premium chocolate, especially in China.

Whittaker's head of international markets, Matt Whittaker, said it would not be easy, but the company wanted to aggressively grow there.

"Big multi-nationals are investing a lot in those markets and their horizon for return is much longer than a small business like ours, so we've got to be a little more savvy, I would say, in the way we go about doing things," he said.

Mr Whittaker said it hoped to ramp up exports and sales to Asia by 2020-2021.

He said the company, which produces its products in Porirua, north of Wellington, was expanding its facilities on land around the main building to meet demand.

While he said it focused a lot on automated production, it planned to hire more people and up-skill staff.