Chocolate maker warns of dwindling cacao supply in PH

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Cebu City (CNN Philippines, March 20) — Business just got a little bitter, instead of sweeter, for chocolate makers in the Philippines.

Chocolate makers are facing a shortage of cocoa beans as cacao trees in the Philippines are dwindling fast, according to a chocolate maker, as a result of crop shifting.

Chocolate maker Dalareich Polot, co-founder of the Tagbilaran City-based Dalareich Chocolate House, said a number of cacao plantations in Mindanao, which has the largest plantations of cacao trees, have been transformed into durian plantations.

Durian plantations are profitable and appealing to farmers since the fruit is mostly exported to China.

"This is a challenge for all of us. We need to plant more cacao," Polot said in an interview on March 16.

The country has a monthly cacao demand of 50,000 metric tons and local supply can only meet 10,000 metric tons. Most chocolate makers are now importing beans to meet demand.

According to data from Dalareich Chocolate House, Central Visayas only makes up one percent of total cacao production even if the region is known for sikwate or tablea chocolate drink.

"Central Visayas has a big challenge because all the tablea makers who drink sikwate every morning are all Boholanos, Cebuanos, and Negros people. But we only have one percent production. Right now Mindanao is cutting down trees, cacao trees because of durian. All Central Visayas tablea makers have that problem of getting cacao," Polot said.

Polot is the 2019 Gold Winner of London-based Academy of Chocolate Awards. She said the company is campaigning for the rehabilitation of heirloom cacao trees in Bohol, while convincing farmers to continue planting more and preserve the tradition of making chocolates.