The boss of one of Australia’s home-grown chocolatiers was announced as the winner of a prestigious award at the Australian Industry Group’s ConTech2024 confectionery industry event in Melbourne on Tuesday night.

Alister Haigh, of Haigh’s Chocolates, received the Alfred Stauder Award for Excellence for his outstanding contribution to the confectionery sector in Australia.

His great-grandfather, Alfred Haigh, established the business in 1915 and it fast became an Adelaide institution.

Tim Piper, Head of Ai Group’s Confectionery Sector and Head of Victoria, said: “The Haigh family have been great contributors to the Australian confectionery industry, and Alister has ensured this influence and contribution have been maintained and continue to expand.

“Few in Australia can lay claim to the pedigree in confectionery that Alister Haigh has.”

Ai Group's Tim Piper presents Alister Haigh with the Alfred Stauder Award for Excellence.

The Haigh family became renowned throughout South Australia from the 1940s.  

When the Queen Mother visited South Australia in 1966, Claude Haigh (Alister’s grandfather) was invited to take her on a walk of his significant horse stud and stables.   

Alister joined the family business in 1974, a few years before his brother, Simon. 

The pair, joint Managing Directors of the family business since 1990, were expected to work their way through the different areas of the factory: the cooking room, the chocolate room, the enrobing line and the office. 

In the 1980s, Haigh’s decided to focus on premium chocolates, moving away from sugar sweets.  

The business also started to develop shops: in Perth, Melbourne, Surfers Paradise, Sydney, Canberra and online. There are now about 20 stores throughout Australia. 

Today, Haigh’s Chocolates employs more than 800 people, and in December last year, the family business and Ai Group member announced the biggest expansion in its history – projected to double current chocolate production capacity, creating a further 150 jobs and in the longer term, up to 250 across the retail business.   

Alister is heavily involved with the confectionery industry, in general.  

He supports numerous confectionery activities in South Australia and was President of the South Australian Branch of the Confectionery Manufacturers of Australasia (CMA) for many years, remaining closely involved with the organisation when it moved to Ai Group. 

Mr Haigh, pictured with Mr Piper and his wife, Sue, said he was humbled to receive the Alfred Stauder Award for Excellence.

“It’s quite an honour to be recognised by the industry in this way,” he said.

“There have been many people who have helped Haigh’s to get to our current position, including my father, John and brother, Simon.

“We have all been part of growing the business and making it a recognised part of South Australian manufacturing and developing our retail outlets.”

Past recipients of the Alfred Stauder Award for Excellence include Jason Lea, of Darrell Lea; Tony Raponi, of Nestle; Neil Smith, formerly of Mondelez and John Borell, of GKC Foods.

Last year’s winner was Peter Simpson, of Manildra Group.

John Haigh received the Award in 1993.

Click here for more information about ConTech2024.

Wendy Larter

Wendy Larter is Communications Manager at the Australian Industry Group. She has more than 20 years’ experience as a reporter, features writer, contributor and sub-editor for newspapers and magazines including The Courier-Mail in Brisbane and Metro, the News of the World, The Times and Elle in the UK.