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Made in the Midlands.

MONIQUE Carter is surrounded by chocolate at work - boxes of sweets are piled up in her office waiting for her approval.

The self-confessed chocoholic admits she indulged in a bar or two while studying psychology at the University of Warwick seven years ago.

And now Monique is group product manager for assortments at Cadbury's - which means she dreams up ways to improve the Birmingham-based company's assortments in time for Christmas.

Dairy Milk bars, Wispas and Creme Eggs are just some of the sweets which roll off the conveyor belt at the chocolate factory in Bournville.

In fact, the Midlands' answer to Willy Wonka's empire produces three billion chocolate eggs, bars and assortments every year.

Cadbury's was founded in Bournville by George Cadbury in 1879, making it one of the oldest businesses in the region.

More than 4,000 staff work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to make Britain's favourite sweets.

The chocolate itself is mixed at a Herefordshire plant before being sent to factories in Bournville and Bristol.

The basic mixture of cocoa, sugar and milk is then transformed into Caramel, Fuse, Twirl and Dairy Milk bars which are set in moulds. Smaller varieties like the Miniature Heroes selection are manufactured in strips, chopped and then wrapped in individual foils.

Monique, 28, said: "For mixture bars like Fuse or Crunchie the centres are cut to size then covered in chocolate.

"The different varieties are made in separate parts of the factory before they are sent off to be packed."

As chocoholics everywhere salivate over the prospect of Christmas selections, Monique explained how people have evolved into habitual snackers.

She said: "About 15 years ago we all used to eat three square meals a day but as we are living life at a faster pace, we have less time to sit down and enjoy lunch or dinner. Also we like to share our food more, so products like Roses and Miniature Heroes have become popular because they're easy to share."

As the last Christmas of the millennium approaches, shoppers are already stripping shelves of biscuits and chocolates but work to ensure there is enough to go round began months ago.

"We've spent months building up our stock to cope with Christmas and New Year, in particular with the Miniature Heroes, so I don't think there'll be a chocolate shortage."

She added: "I don't think you can work here and not be a chocoholic."

By Emma Brady
COPYRIGHT 1999 Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Brady, Emma
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Oct 24, 1999
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