By GYNNIE KERO
Papua New Guinea cocoa has reached a market in Spain.
Very soon, cocoa products are expected to hit the Australian market, a local food manufacturing firm says.
Paradise Foods Ltd (PFL), through its Queen Emma Chocolate Company, has sent 10 tonnes of cocoa mass to Spain recently.
Chief executive officer Michael Shields said: “We are very much in negotiation for our cocoa powder into Australia, which is very important.
“Once those customers come through, we will see a big take up in our products.”
This week, Queen Emma Chocolate Company launched its new amazing-looking and tasting chocolate range.
In 2012, Paradise Foods embarked on its expansion into becoming a downstream processor of cocoa beans under the Queen Emma Brand. It has been a great opportunity to create a value-added product of cocoa, create employment and skill development for Papua New Guineans, and also support rural farmers through premium cocoa purchases.
The Queen Emma Chocolate brand name was chosen to pay homage to Emma Coe, a Samoan by origin, who settled in Kokopo, East New Britain.
She acquired land from surrounding village chiefs and established large cocoa and coconut plantations.
With her brother-in-law Richard Parkinson, Emma Coe planted the first cocoa tree on her estate in Kokopo in 1884.
She became a well-known trader and was affectionately known as “Queen Emma of the South Seas”.
Commenting on its customer base, Shields said: “About 200 customers, many more customers when sold into shops.
“The chocolates are sold in all high-end retail shops like RH, Food World Waterfront, duty-free shops at the airport at this stage.
“There are 2000 suppliers of cocoa right across the country: Bougainville, Kokoda, Milne Bay.
“We try to get as much as we can.”
PNG cocoa has been marred by incorrect fermentation and smoke taint due to poor management of wood-fired dryers, which greatly affects quality.
Efforts by the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (Aciar), Pacific Horticulture Agriculture Market Access (Phama) and World Vision, who are working in conjunction with Cocoa Board PNG in a number of projects, helped improved the quality of the cocoa.
Queen Emma Chocolate Company & Paradise Spices general manager Karina Makori said: “Improved quality will open up new markets for growers, providing they can consistently produce the same flavour profile beans and providing they have a rudimentary understanding of the cocoa market on a global scale.”
She said activities such as the Cocoa of Excellence Show and Chocolate Festival held annually had incentivised growers to improve their post-harvest practices.
“We are proud to have on our grower listing to date at just over 2000 small holders, who are either individuals or part of the four cooperatives we work with,” Makori said.
“In recent years, Queen Emma has been privileged to participate in the annual Bougainville Chocolate Festival and Cocoa Warwagira.
“It has been notable that at these festivals, numerous awards have been received by growers who supply Queen Emma Chocolate.
“Among those are the Lower Watut Cooperative (Morobe), whose cocoa won an award in the Paris Cocoa Salon Du in 2016.
“These awards highlight the commitment of these growers to produce quality cocoa.
“We will continue to work with our growers to seek appropriate training and resources required for the continuous production of quality cocoa.”
According to the Cocoa Board of PNG, the industry reported an increase in cocoa production to 44,000 tonnes last year.
The board was confident in achieving the target of 100,000 tonnes in 2025.
By GYNNIE KERO