BRUSSELS 15 October 2018 — The Philippines was one of a few select countries to take center stage at the International Cacao and Chocolate Fair–Brussels Edition on 29 September 2018.
This is the first time for the Philippines to participate in the fair, together with other countries in Latin America.
The Philippine Embassy in Brussels and the Philippine Trade and Investment Center worked hand in hand with United Kingdom-based Filipina social entrepreneur Estella Duque to shine the spotlight on Philippine cacao beans produced in Davao and South Cotabato.
Ms. Duque, who founded her own company Moulinet Chocolat, has been working on bringing Philippine cacao to the world, beginning with the fine chocolate market of Europe.
She said that while the Philippines may not be able to compete as yet with more established cacao-producing countries for the bulk cacao trade, the country has a lot to offer in the fine cacao and chocolate niche market, thanks to the unique and complex flavors produced by Philippine cacao beans.
With the cooperation of bean-to-bar chocolate maker Mike&Becky, limited edition chocolates were created from Davao and South Cotabato cocoa beans and were featured at the Philippine booth in the international fair. Bean-to-bar refers to companies which source the cocoa beans and make the chocolate themselves without having to rely on middle men.
The Philippine booth also featured chocolates made from Philippine cocoa beans by chocolate makers in the Netherlands, Spain, and the U.K.
The response of visitors to the Philippine chocolates was very positive and enthusiastic. Most of the visitors were impressed with the chocolates and inquired on where they can buy them. Mike&Becky co-owner Björn Becker said that they hope to be able to make and sell chocolates made from Philippine cocoa as part of their regular line-up of specialty products in their shop.
Prior to the International Cacao and Chocolate Fair, Ms. Duque gave a presentation and conducted a tasting session of Philippine chocolates.
Ambassador to Belgium Eduardo José A. de Vega commended Ms. Duque for her efforts in promoting Philippine cacao and, thus, contributing to the livelihood of Filipino growers, especially those in Mindanao.
Noting that Philippine cacao is already being made into chocolate by chocolatiers in some European countries, Ambassador De Vega said, “It makes perfect sense for the Philippines to gain a foothold in the fine cacao and chocolate market of Belgium, a country world famous for its chocolates. The Embassy will continue to lend its support to the Philippine cacao sector to achieve this.”
The fair, held in commemoration of the annual International Day of Cacao and Chocolate on 01 October, is now on its second year of bringing together chocolatiers and cacao growers to exchange views and experiences, as well as to learn what is new and upcoming in the cacao and chocolate market.