MANILA, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- Auro Chocolate, a Philippine company that exports chocolate products including chocolate bars and cacao beans, is upbeat about the global chocolate market.
The Philippines' Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Auro's export sales to the European Union (EU) alone have increased by almost 200 percent since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Auro directly exports to more than 15 countries and regions, with over 40 European chocolate makers using the company's fine cacao beans.
Kelly Go, the co-founder and manager of Auro Chocolate, said that being able to export to the EU means that Philippine cacao can compete globally with other well-known chocolate brands.
Auro Chocolate is a beneficiary of the EU's Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP+) program, which allows select products into the EU tariff-free. The GSP+ removes import duties from products coming into the EU market from developing countries. "Thanks to the GSP+ status, we have become part of the international cacao beans market," Go said.
The increase in sales has benefited Auro and those who work for the company. "(This) means there is a growing demand for our partner farming community's beans, thus generating more income for the farmers while providing a stable market for their cacao," Go added.
Launched in 2017, Auro Chocolate is a tree-to-bar chocolate brand and social enterprise introducing community development programs and premiums above commodity prices for supporting farmers. Its factory is located in Laguna province, south of Manila. The company has worked towards exporting its products to the EU and other countries since 2018.
"People would question the quality of our products as chocolates from the Philippines were unheard of," Go recalled the challenges to be hurdled before successful exports to the EU could materialize, stressing the need to be up-to-date with mandatory procedural requirements to win consumers' trust regarding chocolate products grown and made in the Philippines.
The DTI assisted Auro in completing the EU's mandatory regulatory requirements for export. The Centre for International Trade Expositions and Missions further supported the company in organizing country booths at key international trade fairs such as Salon du Chocolat in France.
The initiatives worked wonders for generating interest in Auro's fine cacao. Go said Auro chocolate is ready to set higher achievement standards. "We have exciting plans. We are expanding our sourcing to introduce new, exciting origins of chocolates. Shifting to more environmentally-friendly practices and materials across the supply chain is also on the cards," she said. ■