Local chocolate brands promotion pressed

August 8, 2023 Jester P. Manalastas 276 views

A House leader called for the promotion of a unique Filipino brand of chocolate to boost the local cacao industry.

Albay Representative Joey Salceda, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said it is about time to develop and promote the local chocolate brands.

The committee is discussing various bills on institutionalizing a Philippine Cacao Development Program, creating for the purpose the Philippine Cacao Development Council, and appropriating funds therefore, by the Committee on Agriculture and Food.

According to Salceda, there is an existing global demand of 142,000 tons of cacao and chocolate in the market, and that deficit is expected to grow to 190,000 tons next year.

“So, this is an area of agriculture where prices are expected to continue being promising for producers,” Salceda said.

Salceda added, however, that being a relatively small producer, “the advantage of the Philippines is not in producing more or higher-yield cacao, but in producing high-quality artisanal chocolate that we can export to a discriminating market willing to pay high prices.”

“We only produce around 9,400 tons of cacao every year, although this has been growing every year since 2011. Yield, however, has been declining from 0.53 tons in 2010 per hectare to 0.3 tons per hectare in 2020. So, from a mass production standpoint, we will not be able to compete,” Salceda stressed.

“The working model is actually Malagos chocolate, which is an artisanal chocolate with its own brand – basically adopting the model of European products with a regional branding system – like Champagne or Parmesan cheese. Artisanal allows us to command our own price. That model was driven by now Vice President Sara Duterte,” Salceda added.

Salceda said that by a massive cacao tree planting project in formerly rebel-occupied areas of Davao, and when demand increased, people from Davao had a reliable source of cacao beans to process.

“So, it’s not a question of agency, but a question of ecosystem and support. We must compete in the artisanal space by creating a Philippine brand for cacao, much like our mangoes are well-known in the world, even when other countries also produce mangoes,” he said.

Also during the hearing, Philippine Coconut Administration (PCA) head Benny Cruz, in a manifestation to the Committee, also expressed his agreement that both the cacao sector and the coconut sectors should be supported, and highlighted Salceda’s role in the rise of Davao chocolate.