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Malaysian growers cannot compete with pricing coming from Africa. The level of life differs, as do the labor expenses.
Chocolate Concierge founder Ning-Geng Ong
Malaysian chocolate is as ubiquitous as Cambodian or Hawaiian chocolate. That is, they exist, but you won’t be able to locate them until you go directly to the source. But it wasn’t always like this. Malaysia was formerly one of the top 10 cocoa producers in the world, and it is still a major cocoa processor. So, what has changed in the previous thirty years?
The turmoil sweeping Southeast Asia reveals just half of the tale. We chat to five individuals engaged in every step of Malaysian chocolate production, from tree to bar, in this episode. We discuss their struggles, their ambitions for the future, and what WhatsApp has to do with it all.
Click here to read an article version of this episode.
Please contact me at max At damecacao.com.
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We cover the following topics:
- the history of cacao and cocoa processing in Malaysia
- how farmers stay in contact with each other and the Cocoa Board
- “farm to table” as a way to increase income
- post-harvest cocoa processing techniques in Malaysia
- what Malaysia’s oil palm cultivation means for domestic cocoa
- Malaysia’s strong research background and bank
- the most common chocolates eaten in Malaysia
- problems with growing cacao in Malaysia, or rather, continuing to grow cocoa in Malaysia
0:00-2:18 Introduction to the country and background, followed by a call to action
2:18-7:10 Basic information on the history of cacao farming in Malaysia and how it has evolved through time (Malaysian Cocoa Board)
7:10-16:10 Examining cocoa producers’ perspectives on how cocoa production may become a viable career path for the country’s farmers, as well as what caused the price and quality reduction in the first place. (Rustam Bakka and Josephine Lu)
16:10-24:00 Examining how Malaysia’s premium cacao scene has evolved over the previous decade, as well as structural hurdles to raising farmer income. Eddie Kim (Eddie Kim)
24:00-38:00 Ning-Geng Ong discusses Malaysian cacao culture and how he is developing his own vision of the country’s future approach to cocoa farming and enjoyment.
38:00-41:31 The podcast concludes with last views on value-added chocolate products in Malaysia.
More About Our Visitors
Further information on the Malaysian Cocoa Board may be found here.
Josephine Lu and Rustam Bakka are the co-founders of Jaws & Claws Chocolate, a direct trade bean-to-bar chocolate business, as well as a cacao farmer and regional fermentation manager in Keningau, Sabah, Malaysia. Visit Jaws & Claws on Instagram and Facebook.
Eddie Kim is a cacao instructor and co-founder of Bonaterra Chocolate in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia. Visit Bonaterra’s Instagram and Facebook pages.
Ning-Geng Ong is the creator and chocolate maker of Chocolate Concierge, a handmade chocolate firm situated in Kuala Lumpur, as well as a cocoa grower and visionary at Culture Cacao. Ning’s Instagram, Facebook, and Website are all worth a look.
Contact Chocolate On The Road
@chocolateontheroad on Instagram
@chocolateontheroad on Facebook
Our show music is Phil Reavis’ Roadtrip, and our transition music is People Like Us’ Were Gonna Be Around. Aircraft, Seat Belt Beep, A.wav by InspectorJ (www.jshaw.co.uk) of Freesound.org is used with permission.