Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez congratulated Auro Chocolate for being the first Philippine company to provide cacao beans to the European market. On 16 April 2020, the container shipment of Mindanao-sourced, premium cacao beans arrived at the port of Antwerp, Belgium.
The shipment, which brought 20,000kg of cacao beans to Belgium, is composed of five different cacao varieties, including the Paquibato Origin, winner of the Cocoa Excellence Award in 2019.
“We are very proud of Auro Chocolate for their success and even more excited for what this would mean to our cacao farmers,” said Sec. Lopez.
The trade secretary added 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 the Western trade.
Last May 2019, 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), facilitated European cacao and chocolate experts to attend the International Food Exhibit (IFEX) and visit cacao farms in Mindanao. Among the delegates included Silva Cacao, the Antwerp-based company responsible for bringing the shipment to Belgium.
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. 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!” Delaet said.
She added, “We are very grateful that the PTIC helped paved the way for us to learn more about Philippine cacao. 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 5 in Asia. Never before has a Philippine cacao won this award; it is indeed a recognition of the premium cacao produced in the country.”
Meanwhile, PTIC Director and Commercial Counsellor Benedict Uy expressed hope for the business community amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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.
Sec. Lopez added that the good news serves as a silver lining and an inspiration for the agricultural sector despite the harsh impact of the global pandemic.