A Davao-based chocolate company hopes to attract more customers in the world market when it launches a new line of couverture chocolates at the International Food Exhibition (IFEX) Philippines this weekend.

“For this year’s IFEX, we’re developing products using local fruits to help promote sustainability and inclusive growth in our area,” said Malagos Agri-Ventures Corporation’s sales and marketing head Rex Victor Puentespina.

Couverture chocolate is a particular type of chocolate containing a higher concentration of cocoa butter than chocolate used for baking or eating, and is characterized by a high gloss. It is used mainly for covering cakes and candies.

Puentespina said that in addition to the company’s newest product line, it would showcase its range of packaged dark chocolates, as well as seeds, seedlings, and scions of the unique Malagos chocolate plants.

‘Tree-to-bar’ chocolate

Malagos Chocolate is described as a ‘single-origin’ chocolate, what the company refers to as the “tree to bar” process, which involves the complete process of planting, harvesting, fermenting, solar drying, roasting, and

processing of the cacao beans into edible chocolate.

“Our chocolate is made from tree-to-bar. We grow the trees ourselves, we cultivate them, we take care of them, and process it to finished product - process it for fine flavored chocolates,” Puentespina said. “It sets us apart is that we have full control of our raw materials so we can meticulously watch over the whole process unlike just buying the beans from somebody else.”

Malagos’ unique quality contributes to Davao’s preeminence as a cacao producer. Statistics from the Department of Trade and Industry showed that as of the end of 2016, the Davao region was the source of approximately 80 percent of the cacao produced in the Philippines.

Commercially launched in 2013, Davao-based Malagos Agri-Ventures has already won a number of notable awards for its products, including Best Product from the Philippines at the 2013 Asean Food Conference; bronze and silver awards in 2015 and 2016, respectively at the Academy of Chocolate Awards held in London; and a two-star rating (out of three) at the 2016 Great Taste Competition of the UK’s Guild of Fine Food.

“What makes us exceptional is our new unique flavor profile. We do not intend to follow imported chocolates because we believe that we have a unique product. Our chocolates are fruity because of the influence of the environment we’re at in Malagos,” Puentespina said.

The localized focus of the company has also helped to improve livelihoods of farmers in the Davao area. Puentespina said that they work with 60 to 80 farmers in the area, depending on the season, to source their supply of cacao.

“Our company is part of a family-owned grouped of businesses that have always worked with nature and local farmers. Today, we produce chocolate that is proudly Philippine-made. A single-origin fine flavor chocolate that is truly tree-to-bar,” he said.