Have you read reports in the press about the world running short of cocoa? The simple, hard, reality is that consumers around the world are not prepared to pay enough for a bar of chocolate. The world 'commodity' price for cocoa beans - that's what the major chocolate manufacturers in Europe, Asia and the Americas pay for their raw material - is currently heading back down towards US$2,000 per tonne - about the same price that it was ten years ago. And think how the prices of fertiliser, fuel, labour and everything else has increased over that period. Small wonder that smallholders around the world think it's hardly worth the effort to put all that effort into planting, weeding, pruning, harvesting and fermenting their cocoa...
Fortunately, discerning consumers - such as those of you who buy KokoMana products - are prepared to pay a bit more for a high-quality product, especially when they understand the story behind it... And because we have a 'short market chain', selling our products direct to consumers, we can afford to pay a fairer price to our suppliers.
Our main suppliers are Ana and Manoa Raika whose cocoa farm is about 30km up the road from ours, on the Hibiscus Highway. They have a lifetime's experience of growing cocoa - and are passionate about fermenting and sun-drying their beans to achieve the perfect flavour. They are evidently doing things just right because they have a Cocoa of Excellence Award from the 2019 Salon du chocolat in Paris, which placed their sample of beans among the best 50 in the world. We are proud to be able to share the fruits of their labours with you.
Like Ana and Manoa, we are reaching out to communities around the area, to encourage them to rehabilitate their old cocoa farms or plant new ones, offering guidance and with the promise that we will buy their ripe cocoa pods, fresh from the tree, at a fair price. If we take responsibility for the fermentation and drying, we can assure that the best possible quality of chocolate is achieved - and that allows us to pay the growers the equivalent of a 'finished product' price, while saving the growers the work of processing. A few years ago, an agricultural economist estimated that there are 5,000 hectares of abandoned cocoa plantings in Fiji. We hope that by planting better materials, offering a better price, and turning the cocoa into excellent chocolate, we can help to rejuvenate this ailing sector!