Cocoa export potential may hit $300m a year

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — Mars Inc., manufacturer of famous chocolate brands M&Ms and Snickers, cited the Philippines’ potential to earn as much as $300 million in export revenues from cocoa.

“There is a huge market for cocoa. In Asia alone, there is a big demand for fermented cocoa beans, but there isn’t enough cocoa beans to supply the region’s needs,” Mars cocoa sustainability field research manager Peter van Grinsven said in an interview.

He said if mono-cropped lands in the country were inter-cropped with cocoa trees, the potential could be more than magnified.

Van Grinsven said the estimated export revenue was based on cocoa shipments totaling 200,000 metric tons at a conservative cost of $1,500 per MT. Coco beans are currently bought at an average of $2,500/MT.

The Philippines’ neighbors like China, Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia import about 220,000 MT of high-quality fermented beans from West Africa where 70 percent of the world’s cocoa is currently produced. Regional requirement averages 460,000 MT.

Global demand for cocoa has steadily increased over the last decade at an annual growth rate of 3 percent. Apart from new large markets for chocolate products like China and India, there has been a shift in consumption patterns in the established consumer markets to “dark chocolate,” which has a higher cocoa bean content, Van Grinsven said.

This is because recent studies suggest that cocoa flavanols, the naturally occurring compounds in cocoa, have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health.

Van Grinsven said Mars was keen on looking at other suppliers for cocoa beans. The company is headquartered in McLean, Virginia and operates in more than 65 countries. It has 100 manufacturing facilities globally, including one in China and one in Indonesia.