Boosting our chocolate potential


John Tria John Tria

As I sip another cup of rich tableya on this rainy evening in the chocolate capital of Davao, I reflect on the last decade within which we, as a business community, have been promoting the production of chocolate and its many products. Recent reflections tell us that meeting large local demand is about as good as exporting to discerning foreign markets.

In a very informative March 2022 webinar by the Philippine Cacao Industry Association and the Philippine Cacao Industry Council featured in an MB article, the potential for the growth of the chocolate industry is not only in meeting the quality standards of discerning export markets, but meeting large and increasing local demand.

Citing numbers from sources like Euromonitor, Davao-based chocolate producer Harleen Jao of Nutrarich Corporation shows us that Filipinos are increasing their chocolate consumption, mainly snacks and confectionery, with a local demand 37 thousand tonnes, way larger than current 13,000 tonnes of local production. This is expected to grow further to P36 billion in sales by 2026. I encourage you to watch this webinar at to learn more about this potential.

That said, boosting our chocolate potential means building a larger chocolate and confection industry since we have the capability to consume more than we make. This means getting local chocolate to meet local demand through processing industries to enable the mass consumer to buy the chocolate products they can afford.

Moreover, meeting local demand with varied products will drive income and create stable farm prices, and spur farm-based and non farm-based jobs and integrate products from other regions like pili nuts, locally-made sugar and milk to make the said candies and confections, and of course the creative, branding and packaging industry.

If higher scale processing investments are brought into Mindanao, I consider chocolate to be a catalyst for local job generation.

This is where deeper studies can be engaged by the DTI to help fine-tune the preferences of Filipino consumers. The chocolate industry roadmap developed five years ago by the DA and the DTI can be updated with new data.

The DTI under former MAP and UP President Alfredo Pascual can help. Being the former state University president I think brings schools and their innovative research into the picture to help producers with product development in accordance with the Innovation ACT of 2018.

Reuben Canoy and Shinzo Abe

The tragic passing of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe caused much sadness in the chocolate capital. He is the first G7 leader to visit Mindanao and Davao, and the first to call upon President Duterte in January 2017. I recall seeing the landing of his 747 from my house, and watched avidly the live coverage of the arrival honors at the Davao International Airport. The visit to the city and its people endeared many to him and his family, making a memory few will not forget.

Another passing on is that of former Cagayan de Oro City mayor and Assemblyman Reuben Canoy. He is that rare bird who was well known for his federalism advocacy, but lesser known as a writer and film producer, penning novels and short stories that give us a glimpse of life and his aspirations. Despite his age, his familiar voice and deep analysis of local and world events in the morning broadcast provided intellectually interesting commentaries to those in the Visayas and Mindanao, with a tagline that reminded us of vigilance in upholding democracy.

Both these gentlemen played a vital part in the cultural life of the island.