Chocolate On The Road: Vietnam

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“Basically we’re finding the limits of what there is today [in terms of quality Vietnamese cacao].”

-Samuel Maruta, Marou Chocolate

A significant number of people continue to think of Vietnam in terms of the bloody civil war that took place there in the 1960s and 1970s. But despite the fact that the war has undoubtedly left its mark, Vietnam has become one of the most well-known cacao sources in Asia, which is good news for chocolate lovers. Numerous artisanal chocolate manufacturers working in small batches include Vietnamese bean chocolate in their selection of cacaos. But now that there are more than a dozen chocolate manufacturers in Vietnam thanks to the passage of time, where does it leave the local chocolate manufacturers?

In this episode, we chat to three people in the Vietnamese chocolate and cacao sector who all hold quite distinct roles from one another. Every one of them has carved out a certain niche for themselves, whether it be a farmer, a chocolate maker, or a leader in the business, and those positions are always evolving. Cacao from Vietnam is gradually establishing a place for itself in history, despite the fact that it may be inching closer and closer to extinction.

Simply clicking this link will take you to an article version of this episode.

Topics We Cover

  • some of the complicated history of Vietnam
  • how cacao has traditionally arrived in Vietnam and how it has returned there
  • the most successful artisan chocolate manufacturer in the area
  • chocolate makers’ involvement in rejuvenating Vietnamese cocoa
  • concerns about the availability of non-ingredient resources for the production of chocolate in Vietnam
  • Cacao production in Vietnam as an example of the sector’s potential in Southeast Asia

Show Timeline

0:00-2:10~ Episode & topic introduction.

2:10-10:10~ Background on Samuel Maruta and his company, Marou Chocolate, as well as the history of cacao in Vietnam.

10:10-17:20~ Diving into the modern wave of cacao cultivation in Vietnam, from where it came from to how it’s grown so large. (Van Thanh Trinh)

17:20-20:40~ Discussing the headache that is sourcing cacao in Vietnam, and how it’s changed rapidly over the last several years. (Samuel Maruta)

20:40-26:50~ Looking at what it’s like to build a chocolate business in Vietnam these days, and the role which tourism has played in urging & repressing new businesses. (Ho Nguyen Thao)

26:50-31:05~ Samuel Maruta’s final thoughts on the changes in Vietnam over the last two decades, and whether the Vietnamese people are able to keep up with it all, & the end of the episode.

More About Our Guests

Samuel Maruta is a co-founder of the value-added chocolate company Marou Chocolate, which was established in 2011 and has its headquarters in the city of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. Check out Marou’s Website, as well as her Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Van Thanh Trinh is the founder and chairman of Tanda Chocolate, which is headquartered in Vung Tau, Vietnam. He is also the chairman of Binon Cacao Joint Stock Company. The majority of his statements were made through the medium of his interpreter, Brian Truc Dao. Visit Binon’s Facebook page for more details and information.

Ho Nguyen Thao is the co-founder and chocolatier at Au Lac Chocolate, which has its headquarters in Hoi An, Vietnam. The company sources its cacao from local farmers in the Dak Lak province of Vietnam. Have a look at Au Lac’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

The episode about Cacao Brands also featured Samuel’s business partner Vincent Mourou. Cacao Brands is a chocolate company.