French chocolate firm eyes Davao cacao beans

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 12 Oct) – French company Valrhona Chocolates has signified interest to import 25 metric tons, or 25,000 kilos, of roasted cacao beans from the Davao Region, an industry official said.

Drying cacao beans in Tugbok District, Davao city. MindaNews file photo by RUBY THURSDAY MORE

During the opening of the three-day Davao Chocolate Festival at the SM City Davao, Engr. Edwin O. Banquerigo, coordinator of the National Cacao Industry Cluster of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 11, said the French firm’s executives came to Davao City last week to look into the local supply of cacao beans.

“They heard a lot of information about our beans,” he said of the quality of cacao grown in the region.

The region, Banquerigo said, supplies majority of cacao production in the Philippines.

He said they are now finalizing the first initial shipment of cacao beans to France most likely next year after passing the firm’s quality standards.

“They told us it’s good, acceptable to them. Their commitment to us is they are interested to start making chocolates out of Philippine beans,” he said.

Valrhona is a “French premium chocolate manufacturer based in the small town of Tain-l’Hermitage in Hermitage, a wine-growing district near Lyon.”

Aside from Valrhona, Banquerigo said other chocolate firms from Belgium and Switzerland have also signified interest to source out beans from Mindanao

Banquerigo, also part of the secretariat of the Philippine National Cacao Industry Council, said they are pushing for the development of the cacao industry as a strategy to address poverty, spur rural development, and achieve inclusive growth since 90 percent of cacao farmers are small farm holdings that own 1 to 2 hectares.

He said the country has 15,000 cacao farmers.

As of 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 volume, 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 Davao Chocolate Festival features 24 entrepreneurs that sell artisan chocolates and cacao-based cosmetic products.

Mayor Sara Duterte, who graced the festival opening, vowed that she would continue supporting the cacao players in the city, donating at least P2 million to support the small farmers.

“Our vision to support cacao farming, processing, research and development is our goal to provide opportunity to small entrepreneurs, farmers, and indigenous people to be major players in the cacao and chocolate industry; and the production of globally competitive quality chocolates all bring us together towards the aim of sustainable development,” she said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)