The Chocolate Manor, owned by Geri Martin, is an artisan chocolate producer, creating handcrafted indulgent treats that delight and impress, using the finest Belgian chocolate in their purpose built workshop in Coleraine, Co Londonderry. The Chocolate Manor specialise in printed chocolates and in 2015 launched, a range of quirky chocolate bars, in addition they produce bespoke pieces for corporate clients, events and weddings, as well as delivering chocolate workshops and parties.
Geri identified a need in the market to develop a new and completely innovative print for milk chocolate. Geri was familiar with the challenge, as it is widely recognised in the chocolate manufacturing industry that colour edible ink used in printed chocolate is highly unsuccessful –lacking definition, clarity and intensity when the edible ink is print on milk or dark chocolate.
Geri wanted to develop a unique printed milk chocolate, which will overcome the issues with traditional print, leading to a ground-breaking innovation in the industry, and would in turn position the Chocolate Manor as a clear market leader with a USP on which to grow her already successful business.
The North West Regional College (NWRC) supported Geri through the Innovate US programme, funded by Department for the Economy (DfE), which equated to 60 hours of mentoring support from Karen Marran, NWRC Food Technology Consultant and David McDaid, NWRC Product Design Consultant to develop and deliver this innovative solution.
The College developed a twofold flexible solution, delivered at both the College and the business premises. This involved Karen working with Geri on recipe development applying technical appraisal of ingredients, consumer taste panel testing and shelf life analysis ensuring adherence to legal and regularity EU criteria whilst David mentored Geri on product design, upskilling in CAD for laser printing, specific to the company’s needs to enhance their efficiency.
The main deliverable achieved was developing an innovative bespoke market-leading product – a new high quality printed chocolate bar. Geri was upskilled in CAD and 2D design in laser cutting, helping her also increase her efficiencies as an added benefit.