Chocolate On The Road: The Philippines Part 1

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“Since cacao was brought into Asia by way of the Philippines, through that connection with Mexico, I would have thought that the Philippines would be in a position now to be one of the top-producing countries of cacao. This is because of the connection between the two countries. But at this point… we aren’t even close to reaching 1%!

-Kenneth Reyes-Lao, Cacao Culture Farms

Both in the past and in the present, the Philippines has been and continues to be a significant consumer market for cacao. But outside of the nation, you don’t hear much about their market. This is something that is going to change very soon, and in a significant manner. Because all throughout the islands, seeds have been sown, and they are almost at the point when they are ready to produce fruit.

In this episode, we have conversations with four individuals who are in a position to paint this picture for us. They will investigate the means by which, the locations of, and the types of cacao that are cultivated on the Philippines, as well as the complex collection of reasons that have caused all of those things to be in a state of flux. In the second part of our series on the Philippines, we will investigate the who and the why behind those changes.

To read the article version of this episode, click here.

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Topics We Cover

  • the magnitude and breadth of the market that is the Philippines
  • the introduction of cocoa to the Philippines
  • significant changes that have taken place in the cacao market in the Philippines
  • how the government and non-governmental organizations in the Philippines are collaborating to transform the cocoa industry
  • The use of social media as a possible resource for farmers
  • As the most important marketplace inside the country, Manila
  • how the “democratization of knowledge” is making market shifts possible and creating new opportunities

Show Timeline

0:00-2:10~ Episode introduction including basics on the Philippines.

2:10-9:40~ Discussing how Ken & his wife, Sheila, got into cacao farming, and how cacao initially arrived to and was cultivated on the Philippines.

9:40-15:50~ Diving into Tito Jun’s family farm’s development, and in particular the ways in which it’s been altered by the largest changes that have happened in the Philippine cacao industry in recent decades.

15:50-23:30~ Looking at how CIDAMI has worked with international NGOs to help marginalized farmers learn how to diversify their farms with cacao, and the obstacles in achieving that objective. (Val Turtur)

23:30-25:00~ Where the largest markets are in the country, and how Cacao Culture Farms is accessing them. (Kenneth Reyes-Lao)

25:00-27:05~ Emma on tableya consumption and culture within the Philippines.

27:05-33:34~ Ken going into the recent history of cacao consumption in the Philippines, and a shift towards more value-adding, especially with younger people entering the market. Also, the end of the episode.

More About Our Guests

Cacao Culture Farms is an agricultural firm with its headquarters in Davao City. Kenneth Reyes-Lao is one of the co-founders of the company. Examine the Cacao Culture Instagram, Facebook page, and website for further information.

Ernesto Pantua Jr., also known as “Tito Jun,” is the manager of Kablon Farms, a family farm that is situated in South Cotabato and is responsible for the production of fruit juices, jams, tableya, and chocolates. Check out Kablon’s Website, as well as his Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao, Inc. President Val Turtur also serves as Chairperson of the Philippine Cacao Council. CIDAMI stands for “the Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao, Inc.” Check out CIDAMI’s Facebook page if you haven’t already.

Manager of Cacao City and a native of Davao City her whole life, Emma Dionglay has lived there her whole life. Visit the Cacao City website, as well as their Facebook and Instagram pages.

Further Reading

  • More on Filipino hubs
  • Regarding the Philippines’ longstanding exports
  • Bringing cocoa into the Philippines through imports
  • This is the first episode of the program, and it focuses on young people in chocolate.
  • This show’s fifth episode, titled “Tree to Bar Chocolate Making,” may be seen here.
  • hybrids of the UF18 found in the Philippines
  • The planet Mars seen from the Philippines (Wikipedia)
  • The government intends to increase the amount of cacao that is produced.


When was chocolate introduced to the Philippines?

17th century [1600s]

The Spaniards were the ones who initially introduced cacao to the Philippine islands in the middle of the 17th century. The scientific name for cacao is Theobroma cacao, which literally translates to “food of the gods.” This is a true testament to the undeniable impact that chocolates have had in people’s day-to-day lives even dating back to ancestral times.

Does the Philippines grow cocoa?

Cacao, also known as cocoa beans, is produced in a variety of locations across the Philippines. Luzon, Mindanao, Jolo, Basilan, Panay, Negros, Ceb, Bohol, and Masbate are just some of the many islands that fall into this category. Cocoa can also refer to cocoa powder and cocoa butter, both of which are made from the cacao bean after it has been processed. Cocoa powder and cocoa butter are both by-products of the cacao bean.

Does Philippines produce chocolate?

The Philippines is an important cocoa bean producer because of its long history in the industry and its advantageous location in close proximity to expanding markets.

How big is the chocolate market in the Philippines?

In the year 2022, revenue from the Cocoa section amounted to $175.60 million USD. Annual growth of the market is anticipated to be 1.44 percent (CAGR 2022-2025).

Who brought chocolate to Philippines?

Galleon belonging to Spain
“Cacao has been in the Philippines for over 300 years because of the Spanish Galleon trade that brought them from Acapulco, Mexico to Manila,” Mendoza told Consul General Cato. “Cacao was brought to the Philippines from Manila all the way from Acapulco.”