The Australian covered a story about this on 23 November 2014 “Vanuatu cocoa growers target the fine chocolate market“.
What the project has done is highly innovative. The project initiated chocolate testing competition “with the hope that boutique chocolate makers will like what they find, buy from local growers, tripling prices and improving local livelihoods in the process”. This effort has been a result of parterships between PARDI and premium chocolate manufacturers including Haigh’s, American chocolatier Gary Guittard and WA’s Bahen & Co (Read: Sweet love: Partnership with SA Premium Chocolate Brand to Support Vanuatu Farmers).
Prof Stringer explained to the Australian that there have been dramatic improvements in cocoa beans production and quality outcomes, particularly since growers learned what their end product tasted like. Furthermore, he explained about the chocolate testing competition:
“It’s innovative and you’re connecting the growers to the chocolate makers; they help identify the quality and standard gaps. By building that relationship they bring new ideas, they co-invest. It’s not just the money, they co-invest time, they share information. Instead of beans just going one way, you’ve got relationships and information sharing.”
The next step is commercialisation.
Bahen & Co could have a product on the shelves within six months, and Haigh’s is looking at including the farmer’s beans in some of their blends by mid-next year.
Prof Stringer previously explained:
“With Cadbury’s paying the farmers $1.25 per kilo, Vanuatu farmers can triple their profit by producing a higher quality single-variety bean earning $6 to $8 per kilo from Haigh’s.”
These would definitely improve farmers’ livelihoods and incentivise them to invest more in quality-enhancing innovations. The project showcases an example of how science and knowledge can make a life impact.
Congratulations Prof Stringer and his team!
Please also read: The capacity of Vanuatu’s cocoa industry continues to improve