Davao chocolate makers target int’l trade shows

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chocolate shoe
A chocolate shoe made by an artisan on display during the Kakao Konek 2018 held at the Davao Convention Center on Oct. 18-19. -- CARMENCITA A. CARILLO

By Maya M. Padillo and Carmencita A. Carillo

DAVAO CITY — The recently-concluded 5th Davao Chocolate Festival saw a growing number of chocolate makers preparing to raise the industry’s profile in international trade shows.

“We will start here with the Davao Chocolate Fest, then we will go Pacific and the international chocolate festivals. We want them to partner,” Val D. Turtur, executive director of the Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao (CIDAMI), said in an interview.

Mr. Turtur said the industry is aiming to eventually join the Salon du Chocolat, the biggest annual trade fair of the global chocolate industry.

There are currently almost 100 chocolate makers in the Davao Region, mainly in Davao City, composed of small home-based enterprises, medium-sized firms and corporations.

Among the most successful and well-known brands is Malagos by the Puentespina Group of Companies, which is both a cacao producer and chocolate maker.

Its chocolate products have won several international awards while its cacao beans were recognized as one of the best 50 in the world out of 166 entries at the 2017 edition of the Cocoa Excellence Programme in France.

Mr. Turtur said the sector’s growth has been driven by an increasing demand for chocolates in the domestic market.

“Its not just the Europeans or Americans, but also Filipinos, especially Davaoeños,” he said.

The Davao Chocolate Festival, held at SM City Ecoland the weekend of Oct. 19 right after the Kakao Konek 2018, gathered cacao growers, chocolate processors, and chocolate artisans.

“We are happy to see familiar faces as well as new ones as we launched this year’s edition of choco fest. This has become one of the most anticipated celebrations by our shoppers, partners, and friends in the community,” said Maria Lynette Angala-Lopez, SM City Davao manager.

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has declared Davao City the chocolate capital of the country and Senator Cynthia A. Villar, chair of the chamber’s committee on agriculture, has committed to support Davao’s declaration through legislation.

“Hopefully the (joint) resolution will be approved. Sen. Villar has not given us a time line, but she said she will do her best to have the resolution approved within this year,” Mr. Turtur said.

He said the growth of the chocolate sector is good for the cacao industry because demand prods farmers to increase production.

At the Kakao Konek, the yearly convention of the cacao industry, Ms. Villar encouraged growers to venture into agri-tourism and develop a training center while working on better farm productivity.

“On top of improving their production, maybe cacao farmers can also venture into agri-entrepreneurship, agri-tourism and agri-related training by establishing their own farm school or learning center, specializing in cacao,” Ms. Villar said.

She noted that there is a big opportunity for the industry with global demand for cocoa products expected to reach between 4.7 million to 5 million metric tons (MT) by 2020 while the supply shortfall is projected at one million MT.

“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.

At the same time, Ms. Villar did acknowledge that current production levels of about 10,000 MT are not sufficient to meet domestic demand.

“Farmers have to strengthen the local cacao industry first before the industry can aspire to become regionally and globally competitive,” she said.