DAVAO CITY – Chocolate makers need knowledge and technology aside from potential markets in Europe, a newbie chocolate maker and farm manager said.

Ernesto Pantua, Jr., general manager of Kablon Farm Foods Corporation, said that the Philippines “does not have machinery yet that will process chocolate like those being used by countries in Europe”.

“The best chocolate machines for small-scale production are coming from the European countries. How can we best access this technology and are they willing to teach us how to make the best chocolates?” asked Pantua.

Pantua raised his concern in the open forum of the first International Exporters and Importers Forum at the side event of the 2nd Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines (BIMP) – East Asean Growth Area (EAGA) and Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand (IMT) – Growth Triangle (GT) Trade Fair and Business Leader’s Conference.

In the afternoon session of the forum on European trade and investments were speakers, Raf Vlummens, founder of Business and Entrepreneurship Training Academy (BETA) – Davao and Martial Beck, vice-president and general manager of European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

Beck said that they would help find the best machinery for Pantua, arrange how they can purchase it and that the manufacturer of the machinery can teach them how to properly use it.

Pantua, in an interview with Davao Today after the session, said that the Philippines has no manufacturer yet of such machinery and that he learned of such on his own.

“I only joined a forum of international chocolatiers in the internet,” he said.

Pantua said he even sent actual cocoa beans to the group so they can create chocolate out of it using their machinery.

“They said we have good quality beans. But we could not tell because we do not know what is good is what is not,” he said.

Pantua said that it might be possible that Philippine cocoa might yield “better chocolates or have the same quality with that of Europe.”

“But we cannot say yet because of that difficulty,” he said.

Pantua also said that “given the abundance of cacao in the Philippines, maybe in the future manufacturers here can produce such machinery but they must have a model first and chocolatiers more knowledge on how to produce it.”

Vlummens, who referred individuals to Pantua, said chocolatiers in Europe even take a three-year course in a university to create chocolates.

Cacao from the Philippines is widely being used by international chocolate companies based in the United States and Switzerland.

Pantua said that based on their current sales, consumers patronize “imported and locally-produced chocolates”

The Department of Agriculture is targeting a production of 100 metric tons of dried cacao beans by the year 2020.

Government funding and services will most likely expand in the Davao Region which has contributed 77% of cacao production in the country from 2008-2012.

The country’s neighbor Indonesia currently produces 500 metric tons per year and is currently the third largest in the world.

Meanwhile, Beck said that a Free Trade Agreement between the Philippines and the European Union might be signed before the end of 2014.

He said that if it pushed through, two-thirds of the Philippine products that will enter the EU would have zero tariffs.

Currently, Beck said that products from the Philippines entering the EU have a six to nine percent tariff. (davaotoday.com)

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