Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Vanuatu cacao to melt the hearts of international fine chocolate judges

Many locals will know the cacao, also known as cocoa to others. Vanuatu cacao is to be tested by some of the best chocolate makers in the world on Thursday as part of the Origin Salon Culinaire. It is exciting that 3 years of hard work by various NGO’s and donors will be launched at the opening of the first official Vanuatu Chocolate Competition.
Sandrine of ACTIV has been working with many small cacao farmers across Vanuatu to improve the livelihood of cocoa producers and to gain access to premium markets. The result of all this hard work is that organic Vanuatu chocolate will be produced from local cacao growers to be judged by international chocolate makers. Vanuatu is very fortunate to be able to call on the services of Australia’s oldest family-owned chocolate maker, Haigh’s Chocolates from South Australia and Bahen & Co. Chocolate Maker’s from Margaret River in Western Australia. 
Both chocolate makers specialise in high quality chocolate and are here to see if Vanuatu cacao produces cocoa beans that can be used in fine chocolate. This is an exciting opportunity for Vanuatu to sell and export a valuable product, but we need to make sure that the quality is good enough.
Ten small growers from around Vanuatu, from Malekula, Santo and Epi have already provided beans to the ACTIV chocolate maker who has made single-source chocolate from each grower’s cocoa beans using an exact process. The chocolate bars will anonymous and be judged using local judges and the international judges from Haighs and Bahen & Co. Judging is based on determining the quality of the bean through the taste and flavour of the chocolate produced from the bean.

Following the chocolate competition ACTIV and the growers will have a better idea of the next steps. Professor Randy Stringer, from the University of Adelaide has been providing advice to the cacao industry, so the opportunity to have fine chocolate makers here is a positive for the project and the industry.