Food & Wine

Junee is choc-full as the online demand for Easter goodies grows

Chris Roe15 April 2022
Girl with chocolate freckle

10-year-old Molly Jean says Junee’s giant freckles are close enough to an egg for her this easter. Photo: Chris Roe.

As Australians brace for the inevitable deluge of chocolate this Easter, the Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory team has been working overtime to deliver thousands of orders from across the country.

Owner and operator Neil Druce says their online business has boomed in the past two years.

“I think our postal orders went up 7000 per cent During COVID,” he says.

“It was something that wasn’t really part of our business. It was just a little service but it’s become a fairly significant part.”


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While the shift online took them by surprise, Neil says they adapted quickly.

“We shut the restaurant cafe and a lot of those people started working on getting orders out and helping pack and helping produce the chocolate.”

woman packing a box of chocolate

Staff from all areas of the business have been packing boxes to meet the Easter demand. Photo: Chris Roe.

Not only have staff been helping out with the packing and postage, they have also contributed some cracking Easter ideas.

“I don’t mean to be rude about Easter eggs, but sometimes there’s not much chocolate. They look cute but there’s not much there,” Neil says.

“We make half an Easter egg and we fill it with things like licorice, or honeycomb or marshmallows and chocolate.

“It was something that the girls in the Chocolate Room invented themselves and it’s gone incredibly well.”

Man with Easter eggs

Neil Druce shows off the popular half-eggs designed by his staff. Photo: Chris Roe.

The Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory was opened by the Druce family in 1998 and has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Riverina.

They currently employ more than 50 people from the surrounding area and plan to expand.

Neil’s son Mitchell says the run-up to Easter has been hectic as they output around 800 kg of chocolate a day.

“We’re struggling with the demand at the moment, but we’re looking to extend. Then we can have some more automated systems,” he explains.


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While it sounds counter-intuitive, he adds that automation will lead to more local jobs.

“We’ll still need to recruit more people. We’re actually struggling to hire enough people at the moment.”

As the country begins to reopen to tourism, Neil says the visitors are returning.

“We’ve just started school holidays and it’s gone ‘bang’ again as people feel safe to get out and travel,” he says.

Women making chocolate

The team in the chocolate room have been working overtime to meet demand. Photo: Chris Roe.

The popular ‘make-your-own’ attractions were shut down during the pandemic, but Neil is hopeful that the proposed expansion will allow the kids to get their fingers sticky again.

“We’ve got a small interactive room. Pre-COVID it was jam, but after COVID it’s unacceptable,” he explains.

“So we’ll go to a bigger room and, in terms of tourism, that’s the main thing that people want to see. They want to see how chocolate is made.”

And to taste it, of course.

Girls eat chocolate rabbits

Bronte Skye and Molly Jean get an early taste from the Easter bunny. Photo: Chris Roe.

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