By Carmencita A. Carillo
DAVAO CITY — Chocolates are now thought to offer health benefits apart from being a sweet treat, but a Davao-based chocolate company is launching a vegan variety, in what is claimed to be a first for a Philippine producer.
“All our chocolates are healthy as they do not contain preservatives, palm or hydrogenated oil,” Coscao Chocolates Production Manager Jayson M. Balacano told BusinessWorld.
Coscao owner Patrick Belisario, a native of Cagayan de Oro City who is now based in Davao, took charge of research and development for the chocolates, which now comes in six flavors, including the vegan variety.
“Unlike other more commercialized, mass produced chocolate bars loaded with white sugar, additives, coloring and chemicals, our homemade, bean-to-bar chocolate has basically five ingredients,” he said.
The ingredients are: locally-sourced cacao beans, homemade cocoa butter, organic coconut sap sugar, organic virgin coconut oil, and real vanilla pods.
Coscao started production in May 2018, sourcing raw cacao from cooperatives in Calinan, Davao City. It manufactures its chocolates in a small facility in the central Davao.
“We source up to 120 kilos of cacao beans per month from these cooperatives at P160 per kilo, which is a bit expensive for us considering that we used to buy it at P130 per kilo, but the price is going up,” Mr. Balacano said.
Mr. Belisario said the company marketing its chocolate as a superfood and power bar.
Mr. Balacano said that on a regular full production day, the company produces up to 12 kilos of chocolates, equivalent to around 150 bars at 80 grams each.
“We are new in the market so we are still marketing our chocolates and joining bazaars,” he said, adding that the company recently participated in an event in Thailand.
“The challenge is how to get more cacao since we are usually faced with lack of supply,” Mr. Balacano said.
The entry of Coscao and its vegan chocolate has added to the varieties available in Davao City Department of Agriculture-Davao Regional Agriculture & Fishery Information Section Chief Noel T. Provido said.
“The region’s cacao industry is not just about cocoa beans but there are many value-added products like cacao nibs, cacao wine, cacao beauty soap, cacao vinegar and even cacao pods turned into charcoal,” Mr. Provido said.
The Regional Development Council (RDC) has declared Davao City and the Davao Region as cacao capital of the Philippines.
National Economic and Development Authority-Davao Regional Director Ma. Lourdes D. Lim said the RDC declaration acknowledges the significance of adopting regional branding for the cacao industry.
The region produces about 80% of the Philippine’s total cacao output.
According to Philippine Statistics Authority data, cacao production in the region was 5,073.83 metric tons (MT) in 2016, up from 4,920.27 MT in 2015.
The RDC resolution noted that there are currently 20,000 cacao farmers in the region and over 100 nurseries with a combined production capacity of about 10 million seedlings a year. The region also has 10 cacao training centers.
Senator Cynthia A. Villar, chair of the committee on agriculture, said in a recent interview here that global demand for cocoa products is expected to hit between 4.7 million to 5 million MT by 2020.
“If we want to supply the gap in the global demand, the industry should meet the Department of Agriculture’s goal of increasing production by 40% to 100,000 MT of dried cacao beans by 2022,” she said.