Trans-Tasman collaboration: Bundaberg-Whittaker’s new ginger chocolate takes off despite COVID-19 difficulties
The Brewed Ginger Caramel chocolate block, which is being marketed under the Whittaker’s brand, was launched last month and is the first collaboration between the two family-owned businesses.
“[High] quality is an equally strong focus for both Whittaker’s and Bundaberg Brewed Drinks [which helped make the decision] to collaborate on this new product development,” Whittaker’s co-COO Holly Whittaker told us.
“At Whittaker’s, we make all of our chocolate at our one factory in Porirua, which enables us to control quality from roasting the cocoa beans ourselves to the finished products, [in addition] to using the finest ingredients for all of our chocolate.
“Bundaberg [also] sources only the best ingredients, [and also] makes its products locally [which] fits perfectly with our ethos.
“We’ve got a lot in common. They happen to be world-class ginger beer brewers, using only the finest ingredients, and a passionate family business, just like us.”
The chocolate has a ginger and caramel filling made of the same base that Bundaberg uses to make Ginger Beer, which is also its most well-known drink. The chocolate exterior is what Whittaker’s calls its ‘5 Roll Creamy Milk’ chocolate, produced using a Swiss 5 Roll Refiner machine.
The collaboration project was conceptualised back in 2018, already with a focus on high quality, and this focus continued throughout product development and production, even despite the ‘challenging circumstances’ of COVID-19.
“[Product] development and testing got underway last year, [but] the critical final six months of development and launch planning have occurred under unique and challenging circumstances,” said Whittaker.
“With no possibility of getting together to sample products and review packaging, samples were sent across the Tasman and final product development and campaign planning meetings were held over Zoom.
“[It’s why we believe] this partnership reflects the special nature of the trans-Tasman relationship, the synergy between these two family-owned brands, and the resilience of both in working together virtually to create an exciting, [high-quality] new product at such a challenging time.”
The product’s marketing focus thus far has been very focused on the ‘trans-Tasman’ theme – with both companies urging ‘friends and family on both sides of the Tasman to get together virtually’ to try it.
Whittaker’s Brewed Ginger Caramel is currently available at all major New Zealand supermarkets (priced at NZ$5.30 / US$3.57 at Countdown) as well as in Coles (A$4.50 / US$3.30) in Australia. It is a limited edition product though, so for now the firms have not announced any plans to bring it beyond Oceania as yet.
Although this is Whittaker’s first collaboration product with Bundaberg, the chocolate firm has done quite a number of other food and flavour partnerships, across various formats – the firm has over 100 different products to its name.
A prominent example is its 2015 collaboration with ice cream firm Tip Top’s Jelly Tip ice cream – resulting in the creation of the Whittaker’s Jelly Tip Chocolate block.
“[The] classic Kiwi [Jelly Tip] ice-cream is reinvented with silky 28% cocoa white chocolate, flowing raspberry jelly and 33% cocoa Creamy Milk chocolate,” said Whittaker’s.
Such was the success of the Jelly Tip chocolate block that it drove Whittaker’s to a market leadership position in the block market for the first time in its 122-year history, according to Stoppress NZ, and so much so that it was also exported over to Australian supermarkets after local consumers campaigned endlessly for it.
Whittaker’s has also made its mark in the chocolate milk scene by collaborating with Lewis Road Creamery to become a fixed component of the latter’s chocolate milks.