Negros island eyed to be on chocolate map

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City – In an effort to put Negros island on the chocolate map, CY & Sons is exploring the possibilities for Negros Occidental to become a Cacao chocolate producer or exporter.

CY & Sons organized a chocolate-tasting event at Cafe Bob’s Lacson here yesterday to introduce various types of chocolate.

Chloe Doutre Roussel, a cacao and chocolate connoisseur from France, shared her insights about chocolates, as she has been leading chocolate tastings for more than 25 years and is a jury and president of international chocolate awards.

Various types of chocolate were sampled which include mass market, industrial, organic, and the more expensive bean-to-bar craft chocolate.

On the sideline of the event, Ricardo Dominic Lopez, general manager of CY & Sons Group, said that it was his mother’s idea to try venturing out into the chocolate business, as she wanted a unique business to stand out from any other businesses.

Lopez said her mother was inspired by it after she visited Davao for a chocolate farm tour in 2016.

Further research brought Cris Fabriga and Celina Yanson-Lopez to concentrate on the Criollo variety.

Fabriga, a cacao farmer from Barangay Atipuluan in Bago City, was chosen as among the four winners of the 2021 Philippine Cacao Quality Award (PCQA), which recognizes superior quality and exceptional flavors of diverse cocoa varieties in the country.

With the help of Fabriga, they were able to find such variety in the mountains of the province, Lopez said.

The following year, they started to plant cacao trees, particularly developing such kind of variety at their 50-hectare farm in Barangay Dos Hermanas, Talisay City.

At present, they have 35,000 trees. Lopez said they wanted to focus on the post-production side of the business, as it is one of the most important parts of the chocolate business.

“If you destroy the fermentation, you destroy everything,” he added.

Lopez said they wanted to produce craft chocolates, which use high-quality cacao beans.

In fact, he said that their goal in the future is to put up a chocolate factory in the province.

But for now, he said they wanted to start small by putting up a coffee shop that sells more chocolate products.

For his part, Steve Devries, a private cacao consultant from Colorado, USA, said they’re working on finding out the best quality cacao beans that can be used for the craft chocolates.

Devries said the best plan is to convert chocolate and sell it to the market rather than have it as a commodity.

“The ultimate thing is to have a chocolate factory, maybe in four to five years,” he added.

According to CY & Sons, the tasting event allows them to grasp the reputation and potential of the Philippines in the world of specialty cacao and chocolate.

Through this initial step, it is their hope to learn what makes quality in chocolate and how to spot it and be equipped with the tools to recognize quality, describe styles, and choose the chocolates that fit best.

Also, part of their vision is to eventually have it replicated through small farmers, encourage the government to support the development of the Criollo beans, and the province will be known for its rare chocolates, as well as makers from all over the world will be interested to taste out our very own Criollo.

Meanwhile, Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson also graced the chocolate-tasting event at Italia Restaurant here last week.

Both the Provincial Environment and Management Office (PEMO) and the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) are currently implementing cacao growing programs for their project beneficiaries comprising farmers and upland communities in the province.