Vila Times

Vanuatu may become a significant player in chocolate industry

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Vanuatu is about to become a significant player in the chocolate industry with a little help from its Australian neighbours.

Cocoa producers and the founder of the not-for-profit company behind the label Aelan are travelling to Paris for the International Cocoa Awards, AAP reports.

Two of its four varietals, named after the islands where the produce comes from, have been ranked in the top 50 samples in the world even though many of the farmers had not tasted chocolate before.

Aelan also won three silvers and a bronze medal at the recent New Zealand Chocolate Awards.

Founder Sandrine Wallez said the success of the product had been so rapid her concern now was that the small-scale business wouldn’t be able to keep up with supply.

“My worry is that we don’t have enough cocoa,” she said.

“We need to train more people.”

The volcanologist launched Aelan in June 2016 as part of not-for-profit organisation Activ she established in 2008. Wallez sources the cocoa from about 150 farmers and produces about 12 tonnes of chocolate per year.

Oxfam wants to distribute the bars in its Australian stores from next year, while there has also been interest from New Zealand and The Netherlands.

Wallez said to keep up with demand, the farmers needed to produce more beans, its humble production facility needed expansion and she had to source a warehouse in Australia to reduce the shipping costs from Vanuatu.