By Justin Medve 
BELLEVILLE – Local business Donini Chocolate  has put a government grant of $179,000 toward hiring five new full-time employees and installing a new chocolate refiner.
The money came from a federal and provincial agriculture plan called Growing Forward 2 . Applications are accepted at specific times throughout the year, and then examined for eligibility and impact.
The grant was celebrated at Donini’s location  on Bell Boulevard on March 7. Among those in attendance were Jeff Leal , Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and Todd Smith , MPP for Prince Edward-Hastings. But Donini was given the money last May.
Senior Manager Vigilio Salvoni told QNet News that it applied to keep up with rising demand for its chocolate.
“We had the need. If we wanted to grow, we needed to increase our capability,” he said.
Jobs were created in chocolate production and on moulding lines. Salvoni says there was a need for a new refiner too.
“A big part of our business is the production of liquid chocolate that we ship to other companies,” he said.
There is quite the process behind making it, however.
Traditionally, cocoa beans, cocoa butter and sugar are manually mixed with other ingredients before being put into a refiner for 24 hours. Salvoni says the new refiner is able to do all of the mixing itself, saving work in transferring unfinished chocolate.
Whichever method is used, the finished product is put into heated tanker trucks and sent to another factory in Toronto. It is then sold to bakeries, hotels, restaurants, wineries and other chocolate manufacturers.
Though liquid is its specialty, Donini produces 13 other varieties of chocolate. Salvoni says it is able to work with customers to get them the exact type they want.
“Being small, we are flexible. If someone comes here and asks for something specific, we can formulate something that is special for them,” he said.
Donini also has a retail section in the front of its outlet. Seasonal items are often moulded in-house, but items with added pieces like nuts or candy are completed elsewhere and then bought back.
Salvoni says personal touch and quality have been important since Donini first opened its doors in Italy over 65 years ago . The company relocated to Belleville in 1979 and Salvoni says he has seen a lot of growth since then.