Chocolate factory closes for three days as sweets melt in heatwave

Staff at Skelligs Chocolate went on a ‘choco-holiday’ when production stopped for three days because of the heatwave.

Colm Healy, the owner of the west Kerry factory, said there was no point in making chocolate, because it was melting in the heat.

“We did not make any chocolate on Thursday and Friday last week, because it was just too hot,” he said.

There was no chocolate made on Monday, either, but full production resumed yesterday.

Mr Healy, who bought the factory in 2004, said it was the first time in 20 years that production was stopped because of the heat.

The company normally produces a tonne of chocolate every week.

Mr Healy said the sustained heat was making it difficult to produce chocolate and that people were buying smaller quantities, because it was melting.

“People were not coming in; they wanted to be on the beach, and we were concerned that if we had too much chocolate, we were going to run out of storage,” said Mr Healy.

“Chocolate is a product that does not need to be chilled, but it cannot get too hot, because it starts to lose its cohesion.

We take great pride in the chocolate that we make and would rather not make it than have the potential for substandard chocolate.

Mr Healy said he hoped the weather would not eat into the factory’s profit margin.

“Normally, this is our peak season and we have an unwritten rule that nobody takes leave in July and August,” he said.

Mr Healy said that while production was stopped, the factory stayed open and continued to welcome visitors and give out samples.

There are 25 people, including Mr Healy, working at the factory. The 16 people who produce and pack the chocolate agreed to take paid leave.

Mr Healy said they would ensure there would be plenty of chocolate for all their visitors.

“This is our busiest time of year. During July, we expect to have 50,000 visitors and 20,000 in August. It is a lot of people.”

He is hoping that the weather is a tempory blip and that people would start flocking back when they get bored sunning themselves and start looking for other stuff to do.

Mr Healy said people could visit the open-plan factory and see and smell the chocolate and learn how it all works.

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