Whittaker's sweet message for Samoan koko farmers
The Chief Sales Officer of internationally famous Kiwi chocolate maker Whittaker's, Matt Whittaker, has come to Samoa with a sweet message for all the koko farmers.
He said chocolates made from koko sourced from Samoa has been a hot selling item for their company.
And with the major New Zealand chocolate-making company looking to Samoa for their supply of koko, farmers all over the country have been encouraged to plant and get their harvest ready.
Mr. Whittaker’s visit this week is part of an ongoing project that started in 2014 to revive Samoa’s cocoa industry. Their commercial and social partner in Samoa is Savai’i Koko run by businessman, Tupa’i Saleimoa Vaai. Mr. Whittaker and Tupa’i have been visiting local farmers and spreading the good news, encouraging growth in the industry.
Speaking of good news, during a press conference, Mr. Whittaker revealed that the sale of chocolates made from koko Samoa has been making great progress.
“It’s one of the biggest single origin selling products in New Zealand,” he said. “It’s going really well and we’re looking to revitalise the products in the near future.”
He said the earthy sweet flavor to the cocoa which is quite specific to the koko that comes from Samoa is what makes the cocoa chocolate unique.
“We get great feedback from our customers, the chocolate lovers and I think with what we’re planning to do with the product, it’ll get a lot stronger,” he said.
This is certainly sweet music to the ears of Tupa’i, who acknowledged the support of all the people buying the chocolates, especially Samoans in New Zealand.
He also acknowledged Whittaker’s for having faith in Samoa and helping revive the koko industry.
“We’re very thankful to Matt and Whittaker’s company of course for the opportunity to pick Samoa out of all the countries in the Pacific because other countries in the Pacific produce a lot more koko than we do,” Tupa’i said.
When the two companies started the partnership, the plan was to try and build up the supplies. Tupa’i said one of the challenges was convincing farmers to bring in their supplies for the export market.
Today, Tupa’i is encouraging local farmers to work together to seize the opportunity for Samoa.
“We need more of that support coming in. We want to tell the people to go back to our farms because koko was once one of our biggest exports out of Samoa,” he said.
“We want to take that back to those levels and we won’t be able to do it without the support of our farmers.”
Tupa’i also highlighted the importance of quality and ensuring the products from Samoa meet all the international standards.
In the meantime, he is proud of the feedback from farmers, especially the ones reviving their koko plantations.
“Driving around the island now compared to when we first drove around the island is different,” he said.
“At the beginning, we saw so many farms had left alone.”
“But now, you see that a lot of farms have been revived and the interest in the koko is high.”