Cacao beans from Davao cited as among world's best in Paris

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Cacao beans produced by a grower in this city were chosen as among the world's best at the recent International Cocoa Awards (ICA) in Paris.

The cacao beans sample submitted by Puentespina Farms made it to the shortlist of the best 50 samples, out of the 166 bean samples received from 40 countries by ICA, an independent agency that recognizes excellence in fine chocolate in the world.

"This is huge for the cacao industry as this proves that Philippine beans can compete side (by) side with the other top producers from cacao-growing countries," said Charita Puentespina, owner of the Malagos Agri-Ventures Corporation which runs the renowned Puentespina Farms in Malagos, and makers of Malagos Chocolate.

Apart from Puentespina Farms, other entries from Southeast Asia that made it to the shortlist were Indonesia's I Made Sugandhi, Malaysia's Jonisin Tambi and Teo Chun Hoon, and Vietnam's Loc Pham.

A panel of international experts who are part of the Cocoa of Excellence Technical Committee chose the top 50 entries.

AMONG THE WORLD'S BEST. Puentespina Farms representatives show off the Philippine flag and the certificate of recognition from the International Cocoa Awards.

AMONG THE WORLD'S BEST. Puentespina Farms representatives show off the Philippine flag and the certificate of recognition from the International Cocoa Awards.

The sample beans of the top 50 were processed into chocolates by a committee on chocolate professionals. Out of the 50, 18 were selected and celebrated at the Salon du Chocolat on October 28 in the French capital.

Puentespina Farms did not make it to the top 18 but for Puentespina, getting nominated in the ICA was already "a valuable recognition since the focus of the evalutation is on the bean quality – the raw material itself."

Puentespina and her husband, Roberto, ventured into cacao farming in 2003. At the time, they rehabilitated cacao treees at a farm they leased in Malagos, Baguio District.

The Malagos Farm is a 70-hectare facility that employs around 50 in-house farmers. The company also sources wet cacao beans from small growers in communities nearby.

Their beans, known as the UF 18, BR 25, and PBC 123 clones, are a cross between the Criollo and Forastero varieties.

"These fine flavor beans are what we use in our award-winning chocolates that have already earned 9 international and two local wins to date," said Puentespina. – Rappler.com