World Confectionery Conference concludes 2023 event with chocolate tour and masterclass
Sophie Jewett leads a tour of York Cocoa Works at this year's World Confectionery Conference, pictured with delegate Fuad Mohammed. Pic: Neill Barston
A colourful and vibrant finale to the World Confectionery Conference was enjoyed by delegates who participated in a tour and chocolate making masterclass courtesy of York Cocoa House, writes Neill Barston.
Delegates gathered at the independent chocolate firm’s headquarters in Castlegate, which lies opposite the site of the original premises of the Henry Isaac Rowntree’s that was founded some 170 years ago in the county town, and would go on to become the dynasty that was eventually taken over by Nestle.
For the added optional day on Friday, attendees were shown around York Cocoa House’s production facilities, gaining chance to examine some of its industrial chocolate processing machinery, being taken through the entire manufacturing cycle for the business.
The company, which has operated for well over a decade, has built up a strong reputation in the region for its sustainable sourcing practices, and central role in supporting the annual York Chocolate Festival as well engaging with visitors from around the world with its ongoing education programmes that have sought to inform consumers about the world of ethical confectionery production.
Following the tour of its facilities, the York Cocoa House team then led a fascinating demonstration of small-scale chocolate making, attended by Confectionery Production, which explored the basic steps of manufacturing using pilot equipment.
As the company explained, it has taken significant pride in sourcing cocoa direct from farmers wherever possible in smaller batches, in a bid to gain as much transparency as possible in its purchasing decisions, with the firm importing beans from a number of locations including countries in South America, as well as Papua New Guinea in the Pacific ocean. Its present range of confectionery has been continued at its main base by its small, yet dedicated manufacturing team.
Speaking on this year’s event, Sophie Jewett, managing director of the business, explained that it had been a notably enjoyable experience to be a speaker at this year’s World Confectionery Conference on Thursday, as well as overseeing the site visit day on Friday.
She said: “It was a really fantastic experience. I was incredibly nervous, as it’s been one of the first times I’ve been back engaging with public speaking since the pandemic, but I was so grateful and appreciative of such a warm welcome from so many in the industry.
“I think being here in York has been so phenomenal meeting people who have such a connection to the city, and to the industry. So it was quite overwhelming at the conference seeing so many people who had stories and heritage of family members that had so many memories of the industry here in York, so the whole story came to life.
“The World Confectionery Conference was a great event, so thanks for bringing such a diverse set of voices and opinions, and for so many of us to recognise that we are experiencing the same challenges and fluctuations in the industry, no matter where we are in supply chain. It created some great talking points and discussions, whether on stage, or with connecting with each other afterwards, it was a really constructive and vibrant atmosphere.”