The area had been left in a lurch after Mondelez International – an offshoot of the giant American company Kraft – decided to pull Cadbury productions out of New Zealand completely.
Enter Ocho, a small chocolate company founded in 2013 by Liz Rowe. Fast forward five years and OCHO was sold to more than 3,000 small investors on the back of the announcement of the closure of the Dunedin Cadbury Factory. It was one of the most successful equity crowdfunding campaign in New Zealand, raising the maximum $2 million in less than two days.
Now the chocolate company has officially moved into its Dunedin premise, with equipment sent over from Italy now settled in, in the historical building that was once a timber mill.
“We are pretty excited about moving into this new space,” says general manager Liz Rowe.
“It’s a fantastic building with a mix of historic features and state of the art equipment, not to mention loads more room than our current factory. It’s been designed so we can take visitors into the heart of the production area and show them what we do. As well as making premium chocolate we want to eliminate the mystery around chocolate by sharing what we know, from what goes into our bars to how we make them.”
Rowe said the success of the crowdfunding campaign had created high expectations around the company and especially its potential for employing more staff.
“People were enthusiastic about investing in a chocolate factory and keeping chocolate making in Dunedin. We have shareholders from right around the country who are all keen to see us grow and become a bigger employer.
“Our first goal is to get into the new space and get production going. Long term we will look into new markets, but we don’t aim to compete with the big chocolate brands. Ocho is a craft chocolate maker and will stay that way.”
Cadbury created significant bad blood with residents after pulling production from the area out of the blue. The company had previously revealed plans for a multimillion dollar expansion, yet a new hospital location near the area made the plans unviable. Instead of being upfront, Cadbury was accused of lacking transparency about the situation and the factory was quickly closed.
Yet Dunedin didn’t have to be without a chocolate production company for long, and the local importance Ocho has will sit well with residents who reevaluated their relationships with international brands after the closure of Cadbury.
This was originally published on The Register.