Davao’s cacao captures Japan, European choco makers

DAVAO CITY — Davao City’s cacao is winning the hearts of top Japanese and European chocolate makers, but the Philippines needs to double production to reach the market demand here and abroad.

Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao Inc. (CIDAMi) executive director Valente Turtur said the Philippines consumption is 50,000 metric tons and needs to double it for the European market alone.

“We are focusing on the European market,” he said. The Japanese chocolate maker is also mulling on establishing a chocolate factory in Davao.

This means, Turtur said there is a need to expand production area to 100,000 cacao trees.

“We have to double our production,” Turtur said.

Turtur said the interest, especially the European chocolate makers, on Davao’s cacao is picking up because farmers have also leveled up in terms of quality.

He said farmers have learned technology of producing and preserving the quality of the beans, techniques and husbandry unlike in the past when they dry their beans on pavements without minding of the dirt and animal droppings which affect bean quality.

Representatives of top French chocolate brand are currently in the city to check on Davao cacao farms after trying samples of cacao beans from Davao.

“Nagustuhan nila (They liked it). The quality is the same as that of Ecuador,” Turtur said. Ecuador is a top source of cacao beans for Europe.

The Philippine cacao beans and Davao’s locally produced chocolates are also getting world attention.

On October 28, Philippine cacao beans and four artisan chocolate brands will be featured in Salon de Chocolat in Paris, France, and on November 11 and 12 at the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle, United States.

Salon de Chocolat, Turtur said will be attended by about 1,000 chocolate makers in the world. This is an opportunity to showcase Mindanao’s chocolate brands in the Western markets,” he said.

Turtur said the locally-produced chocolates to be featured in these international festivals are Malagos Chocolates, NutraRich Davao Fine Table and Rosario’s Davao Artisanal Chocolates.

The city’s cacao industry is also getting support from the city government aiming to make Davao as Cacao Capital of the country. Davao City, in particular, is home to award-winning chocolate maker Malagos Chocolate and supplier of Askinosie Chocolate owned by social entrepreneur Shawn Askinosie.

“Agriculture is one of the priorities of Mayor Sara Duterte and with her pronouncements we are confident that Davao will become the cacao capital of the Philippines,” Councilor Marissa Abella, chair of the committee on agriculture and food, earlier said.

Abella said the city has been pushing for the declaration of the Davao Region as Cacao Capital as early as 2015 given the important role it plays in the country’s cacao industry.

She said this will help growers improve their income, create jobs, livelihood and spur economic activities in the city and the region. PNA-northboundasia.com