Springfield, MO

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Askinosie ships chocolate to China

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Askinosie Chocolate’s first export shipment to China is expected to arrive tonight.

The Springfield small-batch manufacturer sent a pallet of chocolate on Oct. 21 to Shanghai, where it will be carried in high-end department stores under an agreement with Shanghai Eagle Import & Export Co. Ltd., Askinosie Chocolate officials said.

Yesterday Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed a $4.4 billion export agreement with officials in China while on a trade mission with more than 60 business and agricultural leaders from across the state. The deal allows the state Department of Economic Development to work with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade to sell Missouri goods during the next three years. The delegation, which includes a representative of Stockton-based Hammons Products Co., is working to secure additional trade agreements before it returns Oct. 29.

“Even though our pallet of chocolate seems insignificant, it isn’t, because it represents a glimmer of hope for small businesses in America. We are part of the change,” owner Shawn Askinosie said in a news release. “There is demand in China for high quality products made in America.”

Missouri currently exports $987.4 million annually to the country, and China exports were up 25 percent through August, according to the DED. However, earlier this month, the United States reported a record $28 billion trade deficit with China in August.

Askinosie Chocolate officials had been working with a Chinese distributor for months and had to secure unique certificates about the product ingredients and create new packaging for the chocolate bars, the release said.

“The chocolate is good quality and good taste, with a special environmental packaging,” importer Jane Shen of Shanghai Eagle said in the release.

Askinosie Chocolate also recently released a black licorice and chocolate bar in partnership with a Scandinavian distributor. The dark milk chocolate is topped with licorice made in Martin Jorgensen’s Swedish licorice factory, Lakritsfabriken, and the product is the first in Askinosie’s CollaBARation line, which has been months in development. The program, launched Oct. 7, pairs Askinosie chocolate with specialty ingredients by small-batch food manufacturers worldwide, but the products will literally remain under wraps until their release at Askinosie’s Commercial Street storefront, at and in the collaborator’s region, company officials said. After two months, the bars will be sent to wholesale customers.

“We came up with the idea to partner with these collaborators because many of them are very well known food artisans whom we respect and admire,” Askinosie said in a separate release. “We wanted to create unique, flavorful chocolate bars that were exclusive, but could eventually be enjoyed by our fans around the world.”
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