Site Visit: Advocacy Hears Small Business Concerns at Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate

Increases Volume through Technology and Strategic Production

By Linwood Rayford, Assistant Chief Counsel

On Sept. 12, Advocacy’s regulatory team visited Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate located in St. Louis, Mo., to hear, first-hand, what regulatory burdens this business is facing.

The small business was originally established in 1913 by John Mavrakos, a Greek immigrant, who was known locally for his delicious chocolate recipes.

In 1984, the company was passed on to Dan Able, Sr. Able who graciously explained to Advocacy that the business is now a multigenerational enterprise employing about 35 workers. Chocolate is National Sanitary Foundation and Safe Quality Food certified. The business produces many types of chocolates including truffles, nougats, bars and other types of sweets like candy corn and gummy bears.

While Chocolate’s core business is wholesale and retail of their own products, their emphasis on production has allowed them to become a major producer of finished chocolate products for some of the largest chocolate companies in the world. Today, about 60 percent of chocolate production is on behalf of other larger chocolate companies.

While their product output was historically considerable, Chocolate is extremely proud of its new Knobel one-shot depositor machine, which enables the company to increase its product lines and reduce its production times. Although the machine was expensive, Able said that it will allow his company to remain competitive and grow its business into the future. Able was also proud of Chocolates’ move to more environmentally sound manufacturing. They produce about 25 percent of their electricity needs through the use of solar panels, and the factory is replete with LED lights.

Able discussed some of the Federal regulatory barriers his business faces and he was especially concerned with paperwork burdens. He also described new Food and Drug Administration rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act as being complex a difficult to understand and implement. He noted that there is a variation in how food safety inspectors evaluate their plant, and he hoped that the government would make inspections more consistent and transparent.

Able also noted that it can be difficult to comply with labelling regulations, especially relative to allergen listing. Taxes were also discussed, and he wanted to simplify his method of accounting for inventory.  Able noted that he wished he could pay his taxes by the pallet.  Lastly, because Chocolate does business internationally, Able discussed tariffs as having a significant impact on his the costs of doing business.

Advocacy thanks Mr. Able for allowing us to learn about his business and for personally giving us such a sweet tour.



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