New Samoan chocolate boosts cocoa demand
Samoan cocoa is in increasingly high demand after famous New Zealand brand Whittaker’s launched a new product range that includes a Samoa 70 per cent dark chocolate block.
Whittaker’s supplier in Samoa, Savaii Koko, is run by fourth-generation cocoa farmer, Tupa’i Saleimoa Vaai, who said the new, expanded deal with the New Zealand chocolate maker would double their cocoa production.
According to a statement issued by Whittaker’s last week, the company’s new Cocoa Lovers Collection celebrates extra dark chocolate with four 100g blocks.
The specialty dark chocolate range is intended to showcase the distinctive flavours of cocoa beans sourced from artisan producers in Samoa and Nicaragua and Rainforest Alliance Certified™ Ghanaian cocoa.
Tupai acknowledged Whittaker’s for identifying Samoan cocoa as being of premium quality.
“For our local farmers that just strengthens and guarantees our market with Savai’i Koko,” he said.
“We have a secure and dedicated market that can maintain the growing work put in by our farmers into their farms to provide incomes for their families.
“All the honour and glory [goes] to our Heavenly Father for his blessings
“The majority of our farmers are from Savaii and there over 300 in our supply list.
“But in terms of supply we are dependent on our farmers, we’ve done a lot of work to try and keep encouraging our farmers to sort of expand their plantation because the demand is very high.
“If we really want to expand cocoa, we need steady markets like Whittaker’s who can take as much cocoa as they can.
“Samoa needs to up its production in terms of cocoa which is why there is a need for any kind of grant funding directly to assist the cocoa farmers.”
He noted that their company still remains a relatively small part of Whittaker’s broader supply chain.
“They bring in 30 containers a month out of Africa while we supply them with four to five containers a year,” he said.
“It is because a lot of our farmers are smallholding farmers, we wish there was more investment into helping the smaller farmers increase their holdings.
“We’ve got lots of land available but the more we grow the more of the costs are involved in terms of labour and more maintenance. This is the second chocolate that they have made out of the particular cocoa.”
Tupai said the launch of the new chocolate was a milestone for the development of quality Samoan cocoa.
“And that is a good bonus for Samoa and we have to build that reputation.”
Whittaker’s co-Chief Operating Officer, Matt Whittaker, said that the new range will cater to growing consumer demand for darker chocolate.
“This is something special for those who are really serious about enjoying intense cocoa flavours, with unique differences in taste based on the terroir of the cocoa beans, and who care about the story behind the cocoa beans we use to make our delicious chocolate,” he said.
Mr. Whittaker said that the Whittaker’s Cocoa Lovers Collection is its darkest chocolate range ever produced.
The new 100g range introduces 70 per cent Cocoa Samoa Chocolate, which replaces Whittaker’s existing 64 per cent Samoan Cacao 100g block. It is intended to showcase the delicate, sweet and creamy flavour of Samoan cocoa beans.
Mr. Whittaker said his personal favourite among the new range was the Whittaker’s 70 per cent is the Cocoa Samoa Chocolate. Not only does the chocolate have a unique flavour, Mr. Whittaker said, but he was proud of the company’s relationship with its Savai’i-based partner since it established a Cocoa Improvement Programme in 2014.
Under the Programme, Whittaker’s works directly with Savai’i Koko, providing them with resources and on-the-ground support to increase cocoa yields.
“Like Whittaker’s, Savai’i Koko are a fourth-generation family-run business, and a trusted partner,” Mr. Whittaker said.
“The relationship we’ve built has not only ensured a reliable supply of high-quality cocoa beans for our chocolate, but it has also helped to revitalise the cocoa export industry in Samoa and we’re really proud to have the opportunity to contribute in this way to better conditions for cocoa farmers close to home.”
Whittaker’s also has a direct relationship with its Nicaraguan cocoa supplier, which means Whittaker’s can completely trace the supply of its cocoa beans to ensure it could assure consumers of its ethical practices.
Apart from the speciality Samoan and Nicaraguan cocoa beans, Whittaker’s sources all of the other cocoa beans it uses from Ghana and recently announced that all of its chocolate crafted with Ghanaian cocoa beans is 100 per cent Rainforest Alliance Certified™. This encompasses well over 100 products, including the new 86 per cent and 92 per cent blocks.
“We hope that the progress we’ve made to date and the continued journey we’re on to ensure ethical sourcing in our supply chain gives Whittaker’s Chocolate Lovers even more reasons to treat themselves with Whittaker’s Chocolate and to sample some of our darkest chocolate yet,” he said.
The Whittaker’s Cocoa Lovers Collection is produced in New Zealand at the family-owned Whittaker’s factory in Porirua.
The new range will be available on supermarket shelves and retail outlets from 29 June.