Pledges to save Dunedin's Cadbury Factory have cracked the $3 million mark in less than 48 hours with an outpouring of support from New Zealand chocolate lovers.

The crowdfunding plan was launched by Dunedin city councillor Jim O'Malley and a group of volunteers who planned to raise $20m to keep the factory open on a portion of the site.

The public share offer is being preceded by a two-week pledge period designed to gauge interest by inviting the public to indicate their potential financial support.

Within the first 24 hours more than $1.5m had been pledged from more than 1000 individuals.

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The public could make donations from $50 upwards and O'Malley said if enough money was raised, a formal company filing would occur at which point a board would be formed.

He said the initial plan was to raise between $5m and $10m through the site www.ownthefactory.co.nz which would provide a "stepping stone to getting the rest of the money".

Current pledges ranged in size from $50 to $50,000 and had come from New Zealand and as far away as Australia and the United States, O'Malley said.

Several "wealthy individuals", whom O'Malley would not name, had also indicated they were interested in discussing a future contribution, he said.

The pledges were non-binding, but those making them had been asked to do so only if they intended to invest in the future, he said.

The results so far were "pretty exciting".

Mondelez, the owner of Cadbury and the factory, said it had received several expressions of interest from parties wishing to take over production of kiwi treats including Jaffas and Pineapple Lumps, and was working through these.

"While we take the time to assess the responses we have received from interested parties including Mr O'Malley's community-based initiative, it's not appropriate for us to comment on the specific detail of these responses," a Mondelez spokesperson said.