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May 25, 2021

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Sweet success for a man and his chocolate factory

Mo Xuefeng was obsessed with chocolate as a child. After graduation, he turned his passion for chocolate into something sweet — a “chocolate factory” in east China.

Mo was born in the city of Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province. His father is a successful businessman running a packaging company, and he was naturally expected to join his father’s business when he grew up. Mo secretly dreamed of doing something much more special.

“I’ve loved eating chocolate since I was a little boy,” said Mo. “But I knew that my parents and their friends did not have much chocolate to eat when they were young, and it had never been a big deal in their lives.”

Mo now runs Aficion Chocolate Village, a “chocolate village” themed tourism resort in the township of Dayun under Jiaxing City.

The tourist attraction features everything chocolate, from a chocolate-making factory and chocolate tasting to venues for wedding photos. As it is only about 100 kilometers away from cities like Shanghai and Hangzhou, the village draws huge crowds from the surrounding areas.

During the May Day holiday alone the village attracted more than 50,000 visitors, according to official figures.

After graduating from university in Nanjing, capital of east China’s Jiangsu Province, in 2019, Mo went on to earn his graduate degree in finance at Boston University in the United States.

During this time, he managed to visit many chocolate factories and museums across the world, from Mexico and Belgium to Pennsylvania. The idea of building a chocolate village started taking shape in his head.

“I wanted to create a chocolate village that not only makes chocolate but also welcomes visitors for village tours to appreciate the chocolate culture,” he said.

Mo said that chocolate is healthy and that he wanted to promote it in China where “the chocolate culture was yet to be explored” and “many chocolate makers were relatively unknown compared to foreign brands.”

“I saw an opportunity,” he said.

In 2011, Mo graduated from Boston University and faced a dilemma. He could either choose to stay in the United States to start a career or go back to his hometown to take on his father’s business. While these seemed like his only options, he eventually decided to come back to China to launch a business of his own. Things were not that easy in the very beginning.

“There was nobody to learn from because there were no chocolate villages in China as far as I knew,” he said.

In July 2012, Mo decided to settle his chocolate village where he grew up in the township of Dayun and named it the Aficion Chocolate Village.

The village has won several awards since its debut. In 2014, it was named a provincial “demonstration base for industrial tourism.” It was honored as a provincial “demonstration characteristic town” in 2016. The next year, it became a national-level tourist attraction.

“We did not just want to be a chocolate maker,” Mo said. “We want to spread chocolate culture and promote chocolate-based tourism.”


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