BY VINA MEDENILLA
Auro Chocolate is an award-winning Filipino chocolate brand that sources cacao beans from farmers in Davao. The company works directly with five cocoa-producing cooperatives and 50 individual farmers, representing over a thousand families.
Ira Mendez, a community development officer of Auro Chocolate, discussed and highlighted the role of the cacao producers behind their chocolates on the webinar “#GoodFood4All: Spare a minute, think before you eat” held by Global Shapers Community (GSC) as part of the UN Food Systems Summit 2021.
One of their partner farmers is Jose Saguban, who was awarded the first-ever “Top 20 best cacao beans” for the Philippines in the 2019 International Cocoa Awards (ICA). “This is something that we aim to give to more farmers, and that we are happy that he is being recognized,” said Mendez.
A major challenge that Filipino cacao farmers currently face is the low market prices of cacao. “The Philippines has many varieties of cacao. But of course, there are different varieties, they also have different values, but right now, they are bought in bulk at very low buying prices.” Mendez explained that cacao is purchased in bulk due to the absence of proper segregation and price differentiation of cacao varieties, making the price of each variety uncertain.
To address these issues, they start by empowering and educating their farmers on international quality standards, proper post-harvest practices, as well as on aspects like recordkeeping and financial management. They also created a pricing structure to gear the farmers’ focus on quality and variety segregation. “What we do here is we apply around 10 to 15 percent premium price above the ICCO or the Cocoa Organization market price for cacao,” which depends on variety and segregation.
Traceability is one of the company’s core principles. Mendez added, “we want to make sure that the products we create are traceable to the source.” Names of some chocolate bars derived from a barangay or an area where the cacao beans used for those chocolates are grown.
For instance, one of their products is called Paquibato, a barangay in Davao where some of their partner farmers produce cacao beans. “This is also a way for us to introduce the communities that have worked hard in order to produce cacao that we use for our chocolates,” Mendez added.
Auro Chocolate also launched an organic certification program that allows their partner farmers to practice organic farming. They conduct training sessions, assist their farmers as they switch into organic farming, and provide sponsorship on the organic certification application.
Watch the video here.
For more information about the brand, visit Auro Chocolate.