Local cocoa

We love chocolates. I love chocolates. I wanted to write about chocolates because there’s a fresh stash of these sweet goodies in our fridge. My aunt and uncle is currently visiting from the US and what do they come home with? Chocolates, all the way from New York!

Last year, when news about a possible global shortage of chocolate went viral, many people could not believe it. This can’t be true. Is it? Is it the end of the world? Why?

According to reports, cocoa producing countries, mostly in Africa, allegedly use child laborers in their plantations. That’s a big no no. If proven true, then authorities have no choice but to stop these farms’ operations until they comply with labor standards. This will thus create a gap in production, hence the shortage.

Another reason is some cocoa farmers in the Ivory Coast, the largest cocoa producer in the world, are switching to other produce because it is difficult to farm cocoa. Cacao trees are vulnerable to diseases causing it to produce less pods. According to the story by The Guardian, farmers are giving up their plantations and turn to planting rubber trees instead, which is more profitable.

The main reason, however, is the increasing demand for chocolate. The demand goes up every year that producers cannot keep up.

One positive news about comes from our own cocoa industry. The Philippines is betting high on its rising cocoa production. The island of Mindanao produces most of the country’s cacaos. And in 2020, according to this news item, the Philippines will produce 100,000 metric tonnes of cocoa beans.

This had me thinking: If we support our own chocolate makers, then production will increase. Instead of buying imported and incredibly generic chocolates, why not buy local. Yes, we love our Choc Nut and Flat Tops and buying these already means supporting the local industry, but there are high quality local chocolates available in the market today that can compete with premium international brands in terms of quality.

Theo & Philo is an artisan chocolate brand that produces high quality, delicious, and unique chocolate bars. Its founder realized that most of the best makers of quality chocolates come from Europe, which is funny considering that these northern countries can’t grow their own cacao. Cacao can only grow in areas located 20 degrees north and south of the equator that is why the top cocoa producing countries are located in South America, Africa, and Asia.

Some of the brand’s best sellers are its 70% Dark Chocolate bar and Labuyo bar (dark chocolate with chili). Last year at the Global Pinoy Bazaar, I was able to sample Theo & Philo chocolate bars. I bought its other best seller, the Barako, milk chocolate with organic barako coffee. I also bought the Green Mango and Salt chocolate bar, which was sweet, salty, and sour at the same time. Very good. These bars are so much better than commercial brands.

The chocolate bars are carefully made by both machines and hand. It is then beautifully wrapped with the colorful and unique packaging. This careful attention to standards make their chocolate pricier than commercial brands. At P100 each, the bars are all worth it, though.

You can check out their website to find out where to buy their products.

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