22/03/2005 - 21:00

Seeking sweet-tooth satisfaction

22/03/2005 - 21:00


Save articles for future reference.

There are as many pathways to perfection in the world of chocolate production as there are types of chocolate.

Seeking sweet-tooth satisfaction

There are as many pathways to perfection in the world of chocolate production as there are types of chocolate.

Some chocaholics like it sweet, some like it rich and dark, while others still like their chocolate chewy. Whatever your fancy, the chocolate-makers of the world are on a constant search for quality that will satisfy even the most discerning sweet-tooth.

WA Business News  40under40 winner in 2003, and founder of The Margaret River Chocolate Company, Martin Black, describes himself as a chocolate educator. He launched his brand in May 1999 and followed up with a second factory in the Swan Valley.

Every year since, more than 500,000 people have flooded through the doors.

Mr Black says while the composition of Australia’s confectionary industry is constantly evolving, some things never change.

“People will not sacrifice taste. The consumer is definitely focused on quality when they choose their chocolate.”

This means that during Easter, eggs and rabbits will remain at the front of a proven formula.

“We’ll stick with the traditional market,” Mr Black says.

“It would be silly to try and market an Easter starfish or something like that.”

Chokeby Road principal David Morris says the Perth chocolate market has changed over time.

“Consumers are becoming more aware of the freshness of their food. And chocolate is no different. That is why we have an emphasis on quality,” he says.

 “Our base cliental is very, very serious about their chocolate.

“Chocolate is not just confectionary any more, it is a very complex product.”

Mr Morris is so serious about his product that he employs Swiss born and trained master chocolate maker Martin Baurmann to hand-make chocolate for Chokeby Road.

Freshness in chocolate is paramount for small producers, according to Derrick Wyers, founder of the Margaret River Fudge Factory and proprietor of the Fremantle Chocolate Company. His boutique chocolate line, consisting of 120 different speciality items, is hand-crafted on premises.

But quality control is not the biggest challenge facing small producers such as Mr Wyers.

“The greatest problem for small producers is … the packaging. It’s an economies-of-scale issue,” he says, in reference to competition with multinationals.

This is partly why Mr Wyers’ bourgeoning operation, which started in 2002, is moving towards wholesale distribution.

Yet Western Australia’s oldest confectionary company, Whistlers, is still a family owned operation, and still produces favourites such as rocky road, chocolate liquorice and peanut brittle.

Proprietor Ian Sargent says that, while competing with chocolate mass producers is difficult, companies such as Whistlers will always have an advantage.

 “We make an old English style – a style that cannot be replicated by machines,” he says. “You can’t make things like peanut brittle in mass production. It comes out at 180°C and is very labour intensive. The way we do it is honed through years of practice.”

Mr Sargent, now busy crafting up to six tonnes of chocolate a week, freely acknowledges that his product has a lower use-by date but is reluctant to change his traditional methods.

“Mass production just isn’t as fresh,” he says.

And for those looking to extend their Easter indulgence, Chokeby Road offers exclusive ‘chocolate evenings’ every Wednesday.

Not surprisingly, bookings are essential.


Subscription Options