DAVAO CITY — American snack food producer Mars, Inc., maker of chocolate brands M&M’s and Snickers, launched last week a cocoa development center here to serve as a model farm for sustainable cocoa cultivation.
The center sits inside the 24-hectare cocoa plantation within the Malagos Garden Resort. The resort is owned by the Puentespina family, more known for their exported orchids and flowers. The center will serve as a standard of excellence to sustain cocoa production in the Philippines.
Howard Y. Shapiro, global director of Plant Science and External Research of Mars, said the center would adopt local and international best practices in cocoa farming. These include germplasm evaluation, breeding, farm rehabilitation methods, integrated pest management, post-harvest practices and other agricultural practices.
“Mars is committed to long-term solutions to enhance the lives of the people and communities where cocoa is farmed, and we expect these collaborations to positively benefit thousands of Filipino farmers and their families,” Mr. Shapiro said.
He added that the country could also take advantage of the shift in consumption patterns in established consumer cocoa markets to dark chocolate, which has higher cocoa bean content.
Mr. Shapiro said Asia has a large and growing cocoa grinding industry, but there is insufficient supply of locally grown beans to feed it. China, Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia have combined imports of about 220,000 metric tons of good quality fermented beans from West Africa, where 70% of the world’s cocoa is produced.