Fiji Chocolate on the Road

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If someone wants to purchase anything from another nation, they must be more responsible. At the end of the day, all you have to do is stay with it and put your life into it.

-Tomo Zukoshi, Adi Chocolate and Fijiana Cacao Co-Founder

Although the great majority of tourists identify Fiji with resorts, gorgeous beaches, and cultural dances, some visitors will be able to see a different side of the islands. Fijians have been cultivating cocoa for over a century, often intermittently, to sell on the worldwide market. Yet, similar to Hawaii, the Pacific Island country has seen a local chocolate industry emerge and progressively flourish in recent years.

Since 2005, small-batch, direct-trade Fijian chocolate has been available to visitors and residents alike. I chatted with four individuals engaged in different stages of the supply chain, from cultivating and harvesting cacao to producing and selling chocolate, to learn more about the enigmatic story of Fijian chocolate. Today’s episode delves at how the islands began to harvest cacao and what the future holds for them.

Click here to read an article about this episode.

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Max Gandy shared a PSTA post from Chocolate Travel (@damecacao) on January 25, 2020 at 3:27am.

We cover the following topics:

  • the history of Fiji & cacao in Fiji
  • local interest in consuming and growing cacao, and the level of government help to local farmers
  • kava plants as a rival to future cacao planting
  • Fijians’ chocolate and dessert consumption
  • the main areas where cacao is grown and then chocolate is consumed in Fiji
  • tourism’s role in the Fijian chocolate industry, currently and in the future, and what types of products are most popular
  • how Fijians make the decision to grow or not grow cacao in the future

Display Timeline

0:00-3:55 An review of Fijian history as it pertains to the country’s cocoa culture and the current issues that the islands confront. (From Zain Khan)

3:55-10:50 The origins of cacao in Fiji and the birth of the indigenous tree-to-bar chocolate scene. (From Tomo Zukoshi)

10:50-20:10 How Cacao Fiji is reviving and extending an existing cacao farm, as well as the government’s involvement in advancing the local chocolate sector. (F. Benjamin)

20:10-24:30 What the local chocolate and dessert tastes like, including favored brands, and the strong reliance on tourist revenue. (From Zain Khan)

24:30-27:20 Tourism’s historic role in influencing the local chocolate business, and how this could change in the future. (From Tomo Zukoshi)

27:20-33:05 Fijian farmers’ perspectives on cacao cultivation, as well as a look back at why the 1980s were so significant for the cacao business. (Niko O.)

Tomos hopes for a continuous and deeper interaction between local chocolate manufacturers and the farmers with whom they collaborate. Additionally, the episode’s conclusion and a brief announcement.

More About Our Visitors

Tomo Zukoshi is the co-founder of Adi Chocolate and Fijiana Cacao, both direct trade bean-to-bar chocolate producers in Fiji. Visit the Fijianas website, Instagram, and Facebook pages.

Zain Khan is the co-founder and manager of Vanua Chocolate, a new tree-to-bar chocolate enterprise in Nadi, Fiji. Vanua Chocolates may be found on Facebook, Instagram, and their website.

Benjamin F. is the Operations Manager of Cacao Fiji, a cocoa producer and processor in Vanua Levu’s northern area. Cacao Fiji may be found on Facebook, Instagram, and their website.

Niko O. is the caretaker and manager of Olsen Farm in Namao, Fiji. Check out Olsen Farms’ Instagram (following is by invitation only) and a YouTube video of the farm.

Further Reading

  • History of Fiji
  • Cocoa Day in Fiji
  • Hawaiian Chocolate Culture

Contact Chocolate On The Road

@chocolateontheroad on Instagram

@chocolateontheroad on Facebook

Our show music is Roadtrip by Phil Reavis, and our transition music is Were Gonna Be Around by People Like Us and a variety of Lobo Loco tunes. A clip of Contract by Marceau from Freemusicarchive.org is also included, as are several recorded natural noises.

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