The Philippines is now on the map of cocoa-producing countries. Just recently, the Philippine cacao was selected as one of fifty samples for the 2017 Edition of the Cocoa of Excellence Programme. The program is the gateway towards the International Cocoa Awards in Paris, France.
For the first time, the country joined Salon du Chocolat, an annual trade fair for the international chocolate industry. It ran this year from October 28th to November 1st, in Paris Porte de Versailles
Rex Victor Puentespina, Sales and Marketing Head of Malagos Chocolate, noted the assistance of different government agencies that subsidized the country's participation in the Salon du Chocolat. These were the Department of Trade and Industry Export Marketing Bureau, and Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM); he also acknowledged the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Agriculture, and the Philippine Cacao Industry Council.
According to Froilan Emil Pamintuan, Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) commercial attache in Paris, a number of the participants were surprised to learn that the Philippines is also a cacao-producing country.
"This is going to be a great help to our cacao farmers and to our micro cacao export enterprises in the Philippines," Pamintuan said, referring to the map where the Philippines is now highlighted as one of the cacao-producing countries.
Sharing the Philippine Cacao Council Pavilion at the Salon du Chocolat were seven exhibitors from Philippine cacao companies: Auro Chocolate, Ginto Chocolates, Hiraya, Kablon Farms, NutraRich, Malagos Chocolates, and Theo and Philo.
Several guests were remarkably impressed by the Philippine cacao. After tasting Auro Chocolate's 70 percent chocolate, guest Marie Therese Mayte said, "I have tasted some other ones, but this is really fantastic. The taste is so soft, so nice, it’s really good.” A Filipina now based in France, Jessica Gajete also commented at the world-class quality of the Philippine chocolate.
Philippine Cacao Industry Council (PCIC) chairman and executive director of Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao Valente Turtur also emphasized how the joining the Salon du Chocolat was a great opportunity and breakthrough not only for the country's cacao and chocolate industry, but also to the lives of the Philippines' chocolate farmers.
According to Turtur, the cacao industry in the Philippines is rapidly growing in the country, most notably in Davao City. Eighty percent of the cocoa in the country is produced in Davao, that it is now tagged as "Cacao City." The other twenty percent of the country's production is distributed among farms in Laguna, Cebu, Bohol, Batangas, and other provinces.
The entire bean to bar process that the country can now make is truly a sign of progress. Turtur notes, "If in the past years, we only export cacao beans, nowadays, we export not only the beans but also our chocolate. Now we don’t need to buy imported chocolates for “pasalubong” because we already have our own and they are even exported."
The council admits that the country's current production may not be sufficient to meet the demands yet, but it is hopeful that the local farmers all over the country will soon be motivated to plant and produce cacao.
An "Adopt a Cacao Tree, Help the Community" project by Auro Chocolates is geared towards alleviating the problem in cacao supply.
Launching what they call "crowd farming," Auro Chocolates managing directors Kelly Go and Mark Ocampo said, "The scheme is to adopt a tree and support a community of former Marines in Davao. So, from arms to farms, and in return, consumers get 2 kilos of chocolate…”
With the program, you could watch and monitor your tree virtually, or visit it in person if you are in Davao.