Chocolatiers go green to help protect the environment

Tue 22nd March 2022
Amy And Ed White Rabbit Chocolatiers

One of Yorkshire’s leading artisan chocolatiers is leading the way in ‘going green’ by replacing its packaging with a bespoke environmentally friendly version.

The White Rabbit Chocolatiers store, based in the historic market town of Beverley, East Yorkshire, has built a reputation for producing top quality, hand-crafted chocolate products, many of which have garnered prestigious awards.

The family-run business, which also operates a store in Hull and a popular online shop – meaning chocolate-lovers across the entire country are able to enjoy White Rabbit’s luxury treats – decided to ditch as much of its non-recyclable packaging as possible in 2022, and worked with Scottish packaging experts Windmill Printing to create materials that ticked all their boxes.

Master Chocolatier Amy Fenner said: “A lot of love goes into each and every one of our chocolate products, so it’s important the quality of the packaging matches the contents. We decided now is the time to make sure our packaging not only looks great, but is also kind to the planet, and so we’ve made a conscious move towards using recycled, recyclable or natural materials.”

Amy and her business partner – brother Ed Hawkes – commissioned the bespoke designs from Windmill Packaging, based in Aberdeen, which came up with a form of greaseproof paper, made from wood pulp, and cardboard that can be printed and styled to suit White Rabbit’s precise needs, as well as display boxes.  

Amy said: “The packaging we use has two main jobs –  it’s absolutely essential that the taste, texture and flavour of our products are perfectly preserved, plus it has to look really attractive too and be displayed well. We did a lot of experimentation with Windmill to find the right options, and we are over the moon with the results.”

The chocolaterie was established in 2004, and has gone from strength to strength thanks to the originality and ‘wholesome indulgence’ quality of its chocolate truffles, bars and novelties, which are made by hand in micro batches using traditional chocolatier techniques. The team are also dedicated to using ethical sources and producers who support sustainable cocoa growers.

The company has survived the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with its revamped online shop and a gradual uplift in sales to gift shops, hotels, delis, glamping sites, and food halls such as Hammonds of Hull.

The siblings have also used this period to refocus their attention on their core business – their award-winning truffles and artisan chocolate bars, with just a carefully chosen range of novelty items such as Easter eggs. Recent award wins have included a silver Academy of Chocolate Award for their Dark Stout truffle and a Great Taste Gold Star for their Hot Cross Bun truffles, plus two stars for their Christmas Pudding truffle. Their bestselling truffle, Blackcurrant and Juniper, was honoured with three stars in the Great Taste awards in 2014 and was selected as one of the top 50 foods entered that year.

They’ve also introduced a vegan-friendly dairy-free range, which also happens to be ‘slimline’ due to the absence of cream and butter – not to follow the fashion, but because Amy has experienced some serious food allergies in recent years.

She said: “The new vegan-friendly range includes dark chocolate and the usual ‘milk’ options, but with dairy substitutes so well planned that you honestly can’t tell the difference. We want to accommodate everyone as an integrated part of our customer base and not an afterthought or sideline, so we can offer truly satisfying options without gluten, dairy, soya or nuts.”

It’s now five years since White Rabbit’s founder and former master chocolatier Sally Hawkes passed the business on to her son and daughter, and their move towards environmentally friendly packaging and the launch of the vegan-friendly products marks the latest milestone in their quest to continue developing the business to reflect the times, and also the latest customer requirements.

Ed said: “We’re a self-funded, organically grown family business and at times growth has been a challenge because of that, especially during the pandemic. However, we’ve boosted our e-commerce and online presence, and focused on our ‘champion’ products that our customers come in and buy again and again, and this is really starting to pay dividends. This, plus innovations like our new packaging, are resulting in a new-found confidence in what the future holds for White Rabbit Chocolatiers.”

Easter is, of course, the pinnacle of any chocolatier’s calendar and customers can ‘egg-spect’ to be dazzled by the team’s imaginative chocolatey creations. And this is the perfect time of year for White Rabbit’s fun workshops – adults and children alike are invited to treat themselves and their youngsters to an egg decorating session on Saturday April 16 at the Beverley store. There’s a free gift for every participant plus 10 per cent off any purchases on the day – bookings can be made by calling White Rabbit on 01482 679325.

Ed added: “Easter is the perfect time of year to shop local and also to treat yourself and the special people in your life to a fun experience at White Rabbit’s Chocolate Kitchen.”

The photograph shows Ed Hawkes and Amy Fenner

Just Beverley