Wellington Chocolate Factory owner, Rochelle Harrison, is in Samoa this week.
She is here to meet with the local farmers and give them a taste of the chocolate that they’ve made out of cocoa beans from their farms.
Having been open for two and a half years, Ms. Harrison said they have been getting their cocoa supplies from Samoa for about a year and on this trip, they want to personally meet the farmers who supply them with cocoa.
The company is also getting cocoa beans from other countries, like the Solomon Islands, the Dominican Republic and Bougainville but her aim is to work together with the Pacific island countries.
“In New Zealand we want to work with countries closer to us, to make it more sustainable and Samoa is one of them,” she said.
Ms. Harrison said she prefers to work directly with the farmers.
“In this way, we can help control the process, and making sure that our farmers have been looked after and getting a fair wage.”
The Director of Maiden South Pacific in New Zealand, Tiana Epati, said she saw a lot of potential for Samoa to market these products to New Zealand, but the best thing to do is to bring the market here.
According to Ms. Epati, 75 grams of Samoan pure Koko Bean Chocolate is about NZ$12.
Ms. Harrison said there are two other big factories in New Zealand who are also getting cocoa beans from Samoa, and she sees that there’s a demand of Cocoa beans from here.
Local farmer Suemalo Taleni Isaia was pleased to finally meet the owner of the company he has been supplying for more than a year.
“I am very happy that I am given this opportunity to export my cocoa overseas, not only to help my family, my village and also our country,” said Suemalo.
Suemalo said the industry is a good money earner for him, making about $400 per sack of cocoa beans.
Ms. Harrison also visited another local farmer at Saleimoa who produces organic bananas. She said the Wellington Chocolate Factory is releasing their banana chocolate soon. Ms. Harrison and her team are in Samoa for two weeks.