More jobs for Porirua as Whittaker's eyes doubling chocolate production over next decade

Source: 1News

It's been satisfying the chocolate cravings of Kiwis for more than 120 years, now Whittaker's is getting bigger and committing to staying in New Zealand indefinitely.

An expansion of the Whittaker's factory in Porirua will mean more jobs and plenty more chocolate coming off the line.

"The biggest market is New Zealand, followed by Australia, then Malaysia," co-chief operating officer Matt Whittaker told 1 NEWS.

"New Zealand's our home and always will be, and our focus."

The new building for sorting and roasting cocoa beans will be ready for action by mid-year.

"In terms of uplift on chocolate, we envisage that will increase as demand organically increases," Mr Whittaker says.

Whittaker's employs around 200 staff at its Porirua site, but the expansion means that number is set to grow by at least a dozen in the next couple of years.

Chocolate production is expected to double in the next decade.

Chocolate making manager Wayne Knight has been there for nearly 25 years and is excited to see the continued growth.

"It's really good, especially a small company growing so quick in the Porirua region," he told 1 NEWS.

Mr Whittaker and his sister Holly are fourth-generation chocolate makers, and share the role of chief-operating officer.

They're committed to keeping the company in the family rather than listing it, or moving offshore like rival Cadbury did in 2018.

"It's really important Whittaker's remains a family business," Ms Whittaker says.

"We've got to know the dynamic pretty well."

A bigger factory isn't the only change. Whittaker's is moving to reduce factory waste and develop more sustainable packaging, and it's hoping to increase its cocoa production in Samoa.

Currently only two of Whittaker's chocolate bars are fair trade, but it's working with the World Cocoa Foundation to ensure there's no child labour in its supply chain.

"We're committed to moving to a fully sustainable ethically sourced cocoa supply chain by 2021," Mr Whittaker says.

It's a sweet development plan for one of New Zealand's best loved brands.