For The First Time Ever, a Philippine Brand is Supplying Cacao Beans to European Chocolate Makers

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A local company is supplying Philippine-grown cacao beans to the European market for the very first time. According to the Department of Trade and Industry, a container shipment of Mindanao-sourced, premium cacao beans arrived in Antwerp, Belgium on April 16, 2020. The beans were supplied by Davao-based premium chocolate brand Auro Chocolate.

The shipment, weighing 20,000 kilograms of cacao beans, is composed of five different cacao varieties, including the Paquibato Origin, which won a citation as one of the world’s best cacao beans during the International Cocoa Awards by the Cocoa Excellence Program International in 2019.

Davao chocolate made its way in bulk to Europe after the Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) Brussels, in partnership with the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) and the Regional Operations Group (ROG), invited European cacao and chocolate experts to attend the International Food Exhibit (IFEX) and visit cacao farms in Mindanao in May 2019.

(From left to right) Silva Cacao Chief Cacaopreneur Katrien Delaet, Auro Chocolate Davao Operations Manager Louie Cena, Auro Chocolate co-founder Mark Ocampo, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, PTIC Commercial Counsellor Ben Uy, Chocolate Historian & Author Valentine Tibere, and Silva Cacao Founder Sylvie Guillaume

Photo by courtesy DTI.

Among the delegates were representatives from Silva Cacao, the Antwerp-based company responsible for bringing the shipment to Belgium. The country itself is known for producing some of the world’s finest chocolates.

Silva Cacao General Manager Katrien Delaet expressed confidence in the introduction of diverse flavors of Philippine cacao to European chocolate makers. 

“I am sure that chocolate makers can’t wait to start working with these cacao beans,” Delaet said “By adding their own magic, chocolate makers can bring out the best of the flavours in each cacao quality—from fruity, to floral, to nutty, to woody, to caramel, and much more. Chocolate lovers all over Europe will be in for a surprise!

“We are very grateful that the PTIC helped paved the way for us to learn more about Philippine cacao,” she added. “We discovered amazing qualities. And with this award for the Paquibato cacao, the Philippines is in the top 20 best cacaos worldwide, and even in the top five in Asia. Never before has a Philippine cacao won this award; it is indeed a recognition of the premium cacao produced in the country.”

“We are very proud of Auro Chocolate for their success and even more excited for what this would mean to our cacao farmers,” said DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez.

Lopez said that the shipment not only meant the introduction of Philippine cacao to renowned markets in Europe but also signified the strengthening of country pride, especially for Filipino farmers, to Western markets.

Meanwhile, PTIC Director and Commercial Counsellor Benedict Uy expressed hope for the business community amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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 “While current business climate in Europe is dampened by the COVID-19 issue and lockdowns, we share the optimism and eagerness of the business community, including the Belgian and European chocolate makers, that things will be well again in the coming months,” he said.

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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