Chocolate fans across the world seek out Yorkshire's leading confectionary makers

For any sweet-toothed aficionado, it is a treat that offers the very best of British.

Chocolatier Toni Hughes decorates a chocolate egg for Bettys' Easter range. Staff at the Harrogate business have reported the busiest ever run-in to the Easter weekend. (Photo: Bruce Rollinson).

The chance to sample the carefully-crafted confectionery from some of the country’s leading chocolatiers is a long-standing indulgence for many.

But the reputation of these artisans appears to be spreading across the globe, with an increasing number of international customers.

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Ahead of Easter and a weekend traditionally associated with a little chocolate decadence, manufacturers of luxury treats in Yorkshire have revealed that they have witnessed a growing number of orders from overseas in the past 12 months.

Staff at the York Cocoa House have seen soaring trade online with a growing number of international orders, especially from the USA. General manager Michelle Procter and Sophie Jewett, the company's founder, are pictured in front of Clifford's Tower in York. (Photo: James Hardisty).

Sophie Jewett and Michelle Procter, who run the York Cocoa House in the city’s Castlegate, have seen an overall 400 per cent increase in online sales in the past year. The store has been open during the latest lockdown for takeaways and orders, although its chocolate-making workshops and café will only start up again once restrictions are eased.

There has been an increase in the number of customers in the USA in particular, but also a growth in orders from other nations, including Germany and Spain.

Miss Jewett said: “We have a very loyal customer base who are local, and they really are our main focus because they have stuck with us throughout the past 12 months.

“But we have seen a big rise in online orders from the USA, which may well be down to the reputation of craft chocolatiers in the UK. The American market seems to be increasingly looking to Britain and the quality of our chocolate.

“There have been challenges with Brexit and international trade, but we are getting to grips with these challenges and we are looking at how we can capitalise on the interest from overseas in the future.”

Bettys, the Harrogate-based institution which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2019, has also reported a massive surge in internet orders in the run-up to this weekend.

The firm has seen online demand rise dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic, with year-on-year growth for orders via the internet at more than 200 per cent.

The most popular product for Easter has proved to be sugar coated miniature eggs, with nearly 6,000 packs sold, followed by large hot cross buns with more than 5,400 purchased. An Easter gift box has been the biggest money-spinner, with nearly £51,000 of the sets sold.

Kirsty Mitchison, the chocolate lead at Bettys, will celebrate 20 years with the company in October.

She said: “This has definitely been the busiest Easter period that I have seen since I have been with Bettys. People are looking to treat their family and friends, but also themselves.

“Easter is always a busy time, but it is so nice to know we are giving people a little treat after all that has happened in the past year.”