Cacao Fiji’s global recognition and growth

  A little over a year in business and Cacao (Fiji) Limited has already gained international recognition. The Dreketi-based company received a Certificate of Recognition at the International Cocoa Awards
05 Dec 2015 10:30
Cacao Fiji’s global recognition and growth
Cacao Fiji Limited Founder and Director Arif Khan who represented Fiji in the International Coco Awards is carrying the excitement after receiving Certificate of Recognition in Paris, France. Photo:SUPPLIED


A little over a year in business and Cacao (Fiji) Limited has already gained international recognition.

The Dreketi-based company received a Certificate of Recognition at the International Cocoa Awards held in Paris, France recently.

Cacao Fiji-processed beans were selected as part of the best 50 samples out of 146 received from 35 countries for the 2015 Edition of the Cocoa of Excellence Programme.

Company founder and director, Arif Khan, said: “Fiji was selected among the top 50 countries for showcasing best cocoa samples.

“We submitted a sample of properly fermented cocoa beans from our company’s normal processing with the assistance of our stakeholders.”

As a result, Mr Khan believes the implication of the awards has renewed interest in our cocoa beans globally.

“The impact of that could be significant in the revival of the Fijian cocoa industry,” he said.

A workshop was recently organised by the company at Cacao Fiji’s model farm in collaboration with the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) for the farmers in Dreketi, Macuata.

Mr Khan said now they are creating a database of the farmers.

He said they will start an outreach programme soon.

Through this, they will also engage the buying of wet beans from the farmers and processing them.


Target for 2016

Mr Khan said the target for their company for 2016 was to export cocoa to other countries.

Currently the company exports to two companies which make chocolate – one in the United States and one in Canada.

“We have also shipped out samples to other countries and they are analysing the samples,” he said.

But at the same time, Mr Khan said they have a number of local buyers who also export.


Meeting demand

Mr Khan said one of their challenges was the market was actually demanding more than what they can produce.

“We have been working on one farm which has been abandoned for 15 years and we are rehabilitating it,” he said.

“The farm peaked at 110 tonnes in 1987 but we are a long way from that due to the neglect for well over a decade.

“Currently, the situation in Fiji is that we are all doing small production.”

Mr Khan believes people, including stakeholders, need awareness and training on cocoa farming and maintenance so that the current scenario can be improved.

“We have positioned our company to have an ongoing buying programme from farmers so that they are motivated to focus on cocoa farming,” he said.

“We have improved our processing and we always need to continue improving.”


Recognition and support

Mr Khan said they have had dialogues with the Ministry of Primary Industries and they recognised potential in the cocoa industry.

“Recently, I heard that the Permanent Secretary of MPI had allocated funds for a Cocoa Association,” he said.

“This is the very important starting point where people would come to the same table and strategically discuss and help revive the industry.”

He said he was pleased to know that the government has increased the allocated budget of $530,000 for cocoa industry.

“We understand that it used to $200,000 to $300,000,” he said.

“We want to also be involved as to how this amount can be utilised well for a sustainable cocoa industry.

“At least we hope that our input is taken into consideration and we focus on a national road map to improving our cocoa industry.

“And most importantly be mindful about the quality and preferably organic because what we can target is just the niche market.”


Global industry future

Mr Khan said that it has been predicted that there would be a global shortage of cocoa for the next 20 years. This is because of the changing consumers tastes.

“Consumers now prefer dark chocolate that would have over 50 per cent cacao,” Mr Khan said.

He said regular bars, Mars and others have a low content and up to 20 percent chocolate.

“Secondly, if you look at cocoa beans and its impact on health, cocoa has high level of anti oxidant,” Mr Khan said.

“People are recognising the healthy benefit of cocoa and are demanding more of it.

“For example, people in China, India and emerging markets have growing demands and that is pushing up prices for cocoa beans, a key ingredient in chocolate.”


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