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Solomon Islands Cacao and Artisan Chocolate

Solomon Islands organically grown cacao is in demand from fine chocolate makers worldwide.

Chocolate or Soklet as it is said in the Solomon Islands, is the most popular sweet treat in the world, and as Easter rolls around each year, our global consumption ramps up exponentially. 

Over these few days, it is estimated 180 million Easter eggs will be gobbled, 90 million chocolate bunnies will have their ears bitten off and an amazing array of artisan chocolates will be savoured by chocolate lovers worldwide.

 

Photo credit: Solomons Gold / Facebook

All chocolate, from mass-produced supermarket confectionery, to exquisite artisan bars is produced using the seed of the Theobroma cacao tree.

"Theobroma" means "food for the gods," derived from the Greek words theo (god) and broma (drink). Even white chocolate, long debated by connoisseurs as ‘not chocolate’, is produced using cocoa butter produced from the precious harvest.

And while most of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa, chocolate producers in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the USA are fast discovering the high-quality organically and ethically grown cacao of the Solomon Islands.

Growing cocoa is no simple task, and yet an estimated 90% of the world’s cocoa beans are harvested on small farms with less than two hectares of land. Collectively these small plot farms are supplying a burgeoning global industry expected to reach a total market size of over US$182 billion by 2025.

The industry is burgeoning, because of increasing online sales, consumer trends and new markets like the middle-class populations growing in China, India and Brazil where demand for chocolate is increasing among millennials and younger populations. 

 

Photo credit: Cathliro / Facebook

 

In such a massive industry, diversity is key and competing chocolate vendors are finding ever new ways to tempt customers to buy their particular variety of products. 

Chocolates with organic ingredients are gaining traction and products with ethical source ingredients are taking the lead. Growing awareness of dark chocolate as a healthier product is also driving growth and artisan chocolates have lifted the game, expanding tastes beyond the traditional, milk, dark or white options. Exquisite packaging, finest cacao, vegan varieties and creative flavours such as chilli, sage, ginger, lavender, hibiscus, goji berries are amongst the hallmarks of craft chocolate makers.

In the Solomon Islands where fishing and timber have been traditional industries, the growing market for chocolate means organic cacao is an increasingly important primary industry.
 

Photo credit: South Pacific Cacao / Facebook

 

Already, cocoa has become one of Solomon Islands’ biggest agricultural export earners, generating around USD$10 million in exports per year on average with 75 per cent of export returns retained by producers.

Some 20-25,000 smallholder farmers and their households are involved in production with 4,000-5,000 tons of cocoa beans produced annually.

More than 50 per cent of rural producers and processors of cocoa in the Solomon Islands are women. In addition to being producers and processors, women are involved in the growing and harvesting stages as well as the fermenting and drying of cocoa beans.

Cacao trees bear fruit about the same size and shape as papaya. The oblong berries, or pods, hold about 30-40 sour seeds, or beans, covered in a white pulp. The pods are harvested by hand as machines can injure the trees. Workers open them to remove the seeds before a fermentation process causes the white pulp to fall away, and drying of the beans can commence.  

Cacao beans are full of phytonutrients, which act as antioxidants and are also a rich source of iron, copper, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus. 

 

Photo credit: Cathliro / Facebook

 

Yet while chocolate is eaten, gifted, celebrated and savoured to bring joy around the world, it also has a darker backstory and it is important to be able to fully trace where the cocoa comes from. Consumers who want ethical chocolate should look for certifications designating Fair Trade, Rain Forest Alliance, UTZ, and Fair for Life.

Cacao produced in the Solomon Islands is already gaining a respected reputation as high quality, organic and ethically grown and is now regularly shipped to manufacturers in New Zealand, Australia, the UK and the USA. 

With the emergence of more boutique chocolate companies catering for discerning consumers, the future is bright for Solomon Islands own cacao products and producers. If you're in the Solomon Islands, be sure to pay one a visit.

 

Photo credit: Solomons Gold / Facebook

 

Support amazing chocolatiers who use Solomon Islands ethically grown cacao including CathliroFeitoria Do CacaoLuisa's Vegan ChocolatesMetiistoShe UniverseSolomons GoldSouth Pacific CacaoOchoZokoko Artisan Chocolate, and others.

 

 

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