PRODUCING cacao beans in bulk may lower its quality and export price, said Agriculture Undersecretary Evelyn G. Lavina.
Lavina said the problem with cacao production and export is not only the quantity but also the post-harvest practices.
During the Philippine Chocolates Virtual Forum held last Wednesday, July 7, 2021, she said Philippine cacao beans have a good reputation with its foreign market.
She added buyers do not anymore negotiate on the price when told it’s Philippine cacao beans and stay on the offered price.
“If we produce beans in bulk, the quality will go down. Our findings after three Cacao Sensory Tasting Competitions in the Philippines (1) the problem is really in the post-harvest so we need to increase the level; (2) 10 percent of that is because of the lack of water so irrigation system is needed; (3) in the production side there are a few that need help, maybe with the trimming to reduce insect pests. The Cacao Sensory Tasting Competition is not just a competition. It went beyond that,” said Lavina.
“So tayo ngayon nakita na natin and we are in the best means in the world with this just small quantity of cacao that we have and yet it is sold at a higher price, and we can have a very good chocolate bar, so why go into the bulk beans na meron na tayong magagandang beans? If we produce bulk beans like Indonesia, bababa yung presyo ng ating mga cacao,” she added.
She said the Cacao Sensory Tasting Competition has opened DA’s eyes in seeing aspects of cacao production that need more attention.
Lavina said these aspects must be addressed specifically and that there is no need to produce bulk beans if it compromises the quality and price of cacao beans for export.
She said the same is true for the local market. Local consumers must be offered the same quality of chocolate as offered to the international market.
“Let’s go do good agricultural practice, maintain the price of our quality beans,” Lavina said.
Meanwhile, Davao City’s Cacao City Specialty Store Chair Kenneth Lao said there had been an increasing interest from local consumers about local chocolate and cacao by-products.
“There is growth of [sales] but definitely in terms of the education and the knowledge that is being put out there for the consumers. They are open to trying and supporting local products but again we should also be mindful that we are still in a pandemic and ‘yung consumption might not be as high as we would want to,” he said, adding that chocolates are still considered luxurious items.
He also said the growth can be attributed to the availability of equipment for smaller scale productions which allows cacao and byproducts production in other regions. In this way, more and more Filipinos get the opportunity to taste locally-made chocolates.