Solomon Islands cocoa market has potential

Cocoa pods ready for harvest. Photo credit: New Mail.

Solomon Islands has to ensure that cocoa, as its raw product, is well-looked after to determine the best cocoa product.

Australian cocoa legend, Grant Vinning told SIBC News in an exclusive interview yesterday.

Mr Grant is in the country working with Australian funded initiative, Strongim Bisnis, on reparations for a report about cocoa and chocolate in the country.

He says with raw cocoa at its disposal, Solomon Islands has to ensure this is well-looked after to determine quality cocoa products down the production line.

Mr Grant who has wider experience in doing research work around cocoa and chocolate in other Pacific Islands countries said cocoa fermentation has been a challenge for Solomon Islands.

“Cocoa smoke is not a great problem, you could have what they call de-odoration, you can take the smell out but that comes at the cost of a, reducing your total yield and b, increased cost of processing.

“So the first thing you got to do is get rid of the smoke, that means you must improve your processing means. You grow the cocoa, you pull it off the tree, you crack the pods, you ferment it and then you dry it. It’s that drying process which is not good now and to some extent so too is the fermenting”.

But he adds, there is huge potential to develop the domestic cocoa market in Solomon Islands.

“Part of my work here is to look at the domestic market. I’ve been surprised at the strength or the size of the chocolate cake market, the number of housewives and women who make it a fairly good business in producing chocolate cakes or cakes but particularly chocolate cakes for sale.

“So that again hasn’t been fully developed because of the powder, so there’s just two examples I’ve taken.

“It does suggest domestically that there is a hidden demand, a latent demand, a demand that hasn’t been exploited to try and grow the size of the industry here in the Solomon Islands”.

By: Rickson Bau

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