“We’re very committed to Porirua. We’ve only got one manufacturing site and it’s here.” – JH Whittaker & Son’s Export Manager, Matt Whittaker.
For more than 135 years the Whittaker’s family have satiated New Zealand’s sweet tooth.
Whittaker’s was founded by its entrepreneurial namesake James Henry Whittaker in 1896. After learning his craft, Whittaker went solo, making and selling chocolates to locals using a horse and later a van for transport. By 1937 demand for his chocolate and confectionary had grown and he established a formal partnership with his sons Ronald and James – JH Whittaker & Sons. The business later moved north to Wellington and in 1969 set up shop in its current location in Elsdon, Porirua City.
Four generations of Whittakers have now worked for the family firm – JH Whittaker’s grandsons Andrew and Brian took over operations in 1978, and two of his great grandchildren also work for Whittaker’s (Andrew’s daughter Holly is Marketing Manager, and his son Matt is Export Manager). Andrew and Brian are famous within Whittaker’s circles for arriving at work by 6.45am, donning their blue overalls and getting stuck in on the factory floor alongside the 160-strong staff. Both brothers still live locally in Plimmerton.
Over the years as the family firm has grown, so too has its product offerings. In 1978 the company produced four signature products – the K-Bar, Sante Bar, Toffee Milk, and Peanut Slab. Today there are more than 70 products spanning 24-plus flavours including the Fair Trade-certified 5-Roll Refined Creamy Milk and 72% Dark Ghana 250g blocks.
Whittaker’s sources quality, trusted local and international ingredients for its products, is one of the 90 members of the World Cocoa Foundation that works to improve conditions for cocoa plantation workers, and is committed to keeping its products free of palm-oil (a major advantage over its competitors and one of the key reasons it continues to be named New Zealand’s most trusted brand year after year).
According to Chief Marketing Manager Philip Poole, Whittaker’s ambition as a company is simple: “to make world-class chocolate – in Porirua.”