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13 November 2013 - The Department of Foreign Affairs, through the Office of the Undersecretary for International Economic Relations, will be holding an event to launch Philippine artisan chocolates on November 14.   Chocolates have always been part of Philippine cuisine.  The Philippines also produces cacao, a vital ingredient in the production of chocolate.

According to “Historia de Filipinas,” by P. Fr. Gaspar de S. Augustin, cacao plants were first brought here in the year 1670 by a pilot named Pedro Brabo, of Laguna Province, who gave them to a priest of the Camarines named Bartolome Brabo. Since then, chocolate has been part of the Philippine culinary tradition.

The Philippines currently produces 10,000 metric tons (MT) of cacao beans per year.   Seventy-five (75%) percent of these come from Southern Mindanao, which has over 13,000 hectares planted with cacao.  The country exports $6 million-worth of raw cacao beans, but it imports $100 million-worth of fermented beans from other cocoa producers. Fermented cacao beans give the real chocolate taste and texture needed to produce chocolate. 

The national government is endorsing a target set by key stakeholders to increase the cacao crop to 100,000 MT per year by 2020 and has included the cacao as part of its National Greening Program, an initiative to reforest the country. According to Euromonitor International, the Philippines chocolate market is forecast to grow 13% by 2017 to $306.3m.

In holding this event, OUIER aims to reintroduce the artistry behind the production of handmade Philippine gourmet chocolates, wherein a huge industry will be positively affected, from the agricultural industry (sugar, mango, peanuts, cashews, and coconut) and the handicraft industries (weaving, buri making) for the packaging.  Our partner in the event, Ralfe Artisan Chocolates is headed by Ms. Raquel Choa, a Tablea Connoisseur. She brings with her a long tradition of preparing tablea, from planting, picking, roasting, to grinding.  While the Philippines was once only an exporter of cacao beans, we are breaking new ground by exporting Philippine gourmet chocolates to foreign markets.  Ralfe has already exported 1 ton of its gourmet chocolates to China.  It has also been providing Tablea to Vancouver’s gourmet stores and are in talks with Singapore and Germany.  The future looks bright.

Tsokolate has always been a part of Philippine life, from tsokolate eh, tsokolate ah and champorado.  In elevating the Philippine chocolate, we know that we can compete with the finest gourmet chocolates and that the connoisseurs will take notice that the Philippine chocolate has come of age. END