THE Malagos Agri-Ventures continues to develop its chocolate bar basing on the comments they received from the international awards they participated in.

According to Malagos Agri-Ventures Corporation sales and marketing head Rex Victor Puentespina, as their Malagos Chocolate Drink already captured the attention of international awards thrice already with two silver and one bronze awards, they still continue to improve their Malagos Chocolate Bar for it to be noticed internationally as well.

He said they had been joining contests organized by the London-based Academy of Chocolates and Great Taste Award and the International Chocolate Awards from the United States.

Malagos Chocolate Bar had been previously entered into the Single Origin: Tree to Bar Category.

“It’s a good category to join in because it is very prestigious. You represent the place where you are from. We join because there’s a feedback mechanism and it’s a way for us to improve the quality of our chocolates,” Puentespina said.

Through the comments they have received, Puentespina said he entirely removed the vanilla in their chocolate bar since judges from the international awards said their vanilla was a little too much and its strong aroma masks the flavor of the other ingredients of the chocolate.

Another comment they received was the low tempering quality of the chocolates. Tempering, as Puentespina shared, is a process involving the crystallization of chocolates combining all the ingredients well.

“That was caused by change in temperature during transit, too. Now, when we have our chocolate entry delivered for contest via FedEx, we put it in a styro with ice packs beneath so it wouldn’t be so hot during transit from the farm to the airport. When it arrives in Europe, there would be no problem because the temperature there is around 20 degrees,” he said.

This year, as they continue to aim for gold for the Malagos Chocolate Drink, they are also aiming to finally win an award for the Malagos Chocolate Bar.

Malagos Chocolate Export vs local performance

According to Puentespina, Japan remains to be the top export destination of the Davao-made Malagos Chocolate, although the trade had just started last year.

They are exporting an average of around 1,000 kilos of their chocolates to Japan per month. He added the demand is still growing and their trade partners in Japan said if they are able to export more chocolates, the better it would be.

They have also recently started exporting to Thailand, still with small experimental quantity. But Puentespina said they are glad to hear that their chocolates there had been started to use as ingredients for restaurants.

He also said they have started their luck in exporting to Singapore. However, for now, they see it as a “tough market” as they had to compete with existing international chocolate brands that had already established their names in Singapore.

Branding is one important factor for consumers and chefs alike in Singapore and with Malagos Chocolate, which is not that known yet, Puentespina said it is indeed difficult.

“The international market looks for the pure chocolate. The taste of coco butter should be intact. No much sugar because what we need to taste is the cocoa, not the sugar. We are just bombarded by the multi-national companies that produced commercial-graded candy bars. It’s no longer chocolates but candy bars. In Canada, when you label a chocolate, coco content should be at least 65 percent. In the Philippines, even the chocolate-flavored candy bars are called chocolates,” said Puentespina adding they have a hard time penetrating the local supermarkets in the Philippines since they are displayed side by side with these candy bars that are a lot cheaper than their products. (JPA)