Japanese chocolate maker eyes investing in Davao

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Workers graft cacao seedlings at the Davao City’s nursery in Malagos district. Mindanews file photo

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 9 January) – A high-end Japanese chocolate company has signified interest in putting up a chocolate manufacturing facility in the city, Davao City Investment Promotions Center head Lemuel Ortonio said.

Ortonio told reporters on Tuesday that representatives of the Japanese company had already presented a feasibility study to city officials last year.

The investment official said the company is “80-percent” convinced and hopeful they can firm up their decision within the year, as this will help local cacao farmers market their beans in the international market.

He said the company wanted to locate in the city’s 3rd District where most of the cacao farmers are.

He added the company has been sourcing sources of cacao beans that can be processed into chocolate bars for their market in Japan.

The Davao Region accounts for 81 percent of the country’s total cacao production.

On June 9, 2017, the Regional Development Council 11 passed a resolution adopting the recommendation of its economic development committee to recognize the region as the cacao and chocolate capital of the Philippines.

Lacking in drying facilities, a farmer uses the side of the Davao-Buda-Cagayan de Oro National Highway to dry cacao beans in Marilog District in Davao City. MindaNews file photo by RUBY THURSDAY MORE

The resolution noted that cacao production in the region has been on a constant rise since 2010 with an average growth of at least six percent annually from 2010 to 2016, making it the center of the cacao trade in the country.

It also highlighted the 20,000 farmers who have benefited from the opportunities offered by the cacao industry.

The region has over 100 chocolate processors, most of whom have developed a chocolate variety using coco sugar.

It has over 100 cacao nurseries with a combined production capacity of around 10 million seedlings and 10 cacao training facilities.

“The Council finds merit in the proposal considering that the cacao industry has been identified as one of Davao Region’s priority industry clusters under the Davao Regional Development Plan (RDP), 2017 to 2022,” the resolution said.

The council acknowledged the significance to adopt the regional branding for the region’s cacao industry to promote public and private sector engagement.

For 2016, the Philippine Statistics Authority recorded 6,262.77 metric tons (MT) of cacao produced in the Philippines that has an annual demand of 50,000MT.

Of this, 5,073 MT was produced in the region – Davao del Sur (1,702.54MT), Davao City (1,606.80), Davao del Norte (945.31MT), Davao Oriental (507.26MT), and Compostela Valley (311.92MT).

The US Department of Agriculture-supported Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao said the “global demand is expected to reach between 4.7 million and 5 million metric tons by the year 2020, and global supply will be at a deficit of 1 million MT.”

It noted the deficit “has given rise to the Philippine Cacao Challenge, which commits the Philippines to producing 100,000MT by the year 2020 and onwards.” (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)

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