Company Releases Premium Chocolate From Solomons Cocoa Beans

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Six years of work getting quality beans recognized comes to fruition

By Moffat Mamu

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Sept. 30, 2014) – The country’s first ever single origin premium chocolate is now out in the market after the first batch was produced in Australia last month.

The breakthrough which was made by C-Corp Solomon Islands Limited has also seen local cocoa beans being recognised by chocolate producers.

C-Corp Limited has been working on this project for the past six years.

Speaking to the Solomon Star on Friday to officially announce the good news C-Corp managing director Clive Carroll said it’s a breakthrough for Solomon Islands cocoa beans, the company and the country as a whole to have a single origin premium chocolate.

He said it has been the dream of the company to see Solomon Islands cocoa being used to produce a single premium chocolate.

"Over the years we have been focusing on trying to get recognition for Solomon Islands cocoa and we have been doing this through a number of areas where we have established a processing centre in Taranga, New Zealand where we are now producing intermediate cocoa products such as cacao liquor and cacao nibs which we are now distributing into the food industry in New Zealand."

Mr Carroll said the other area they have been working on was with the plan to produce chocolate.

"We have been working on hard to produce high quality premium boutique chocolate and we are working with a small boutique chocolate manufacturer in Australia called Charley’s Chocolate."

He said Charley’s Chocolate had been working with C-Corp in a number of fronts and cooperatively and last month they have produced the first single Solomon Islands origin chocolate of high quality.

He said it’s a pure organic chocolate with no added flavour except for sugar.

Currently the chocolate in Australia as well as online and has been subject to quality assessment tasting.

"In both cases it has been very highly and comparatively best single origin chocolate from any country."

The managing director said its step forward for the local farmers, the company and the country to venture into this lucrative market.

"Step by step we are getting there and slowly getting some recognition as a company.

"This is was produced last month and we are still developing the product and want to work with a range of top quality producers because we want this product to go specifically into the premium market."

The chocolate product is expected to hit the local market towards the end of this year and it would be sold at hotels, bars, resorts and supermarkets.

In Australia, the chocolate costs AUD$8.50 (SBD$50.00 [US$7.40]) and the price for local market would be determined after consultation with the government.

Mr Carroll said the company has been working on this project for over three years and its huge achievement.

"We are very happy we’ve achieved our dream of producing high quality chocolate using Solomon Islands origin cocoa beans and I guess its our dream to realise the commercial distribution of this product and the range of SI cocoa products not only in Australia and New Zealand but more increasingly in the United States to Europe and Japan.

"The dream has been coming for six years, but in reality we have been working on this project for three years."

He added its also a big achievement for the cocoa industry, which Mr Carroll said his company will work hard to make sure that with other stakeholders they can continue the development of the industry to ensure there's production for high quality cocoa beans and to allow the growers get a fair return for their extra efforts.

He said with the demand for the premium cocoa beans, it means farmers need to produce high quality beans.

"Our target is to produce quality beans for the premium chocolate market."

At the moment C-Corp is currently working with cocoa farmers in Guadalcanal, Makira and Temotu to produce these high quality beans for export to New Zealand and Australia.

One of the main producers of the high quality beans in Guadalcanal province Mark Poghula was excited about the country’s single origin chocolate.

His family also received a bar of chocolate to taste.

He said his family are happy to know that some of the beans they have produced is now produced into a chocolate.

C-Corp staff also got the opportunity to taste the new chocolate and have acknowledged its taste.

Mr Carroll explained most of the cocoa beans were brought in from mainly Guadalcanal and Makira, graded, blended and then packed into bags being sent overseas.

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