09:55 | 16/03/2016 Society
Vietnam’s cocoa sector should aim its sights at the premium chocolate market, the director of the Internatioanl Cocoa Organisation’s (ICCO) economics and statistics division has urged.
Workers process cocoa pods for beans
Speaking at the second Cocoa Revolution conference held recently in HCM City, Laurent Pipitone said that an ICCO panel of experts on Fine Flavour Cocoa recommended that Vietnam’s cocoa production be considered as having a fine flavor cocoa origin.
There is a huge price differences between fine flavor cocoa and ordinary cocoa. While ordinary cocoa is priced between 2,800 and 3,300 USD per metric tone, the fine flavor cocoa niche can fetch up to 5,000 USD per metric tonne, with high-grade cocoa commanding prices of up to 12,000 USD per metric tonne.
Demand for dark chocolate and fine flavor cocoa has risen dramatically, especially in Europe and the US, he said. The direction now for Vietnam is the focus on the quality for the premium chocolate market, he said.
The cocoa industry has had support from the private sector, including form the Ditch government-funded PPP (public-private-partnership) project for sustainable Cocoa in Vietnam, which aligns public efforts with those by Mars, Puratos Grand-Palace , the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, IDH and HELVETAS.
Phan Huy Thong, director of the National Agriculture Extension Centre and Head of the Vietnam Cocoa Committee, said the cocoa sector had not had stable development in the past decade, despite encouraging results.
The country has 11,200 hectares under cocoa cultivation, with productivity remaining low at an average of 0.85 tonnes of dry bean per hectare because of plant density, improper shade management, and lack of investment in fertilisers and pest control.
The Government has taken steps to improve infrastructure, expand training and strengthen linkages between stakeholders in the value chain.
This year, the ICCO expects a supply deficit for beans, which would offer cocoa-growing countries opportunities.
With nearly 50,000 hectares of coconut and fruit trees in the Mekong Delta, and about 100,000 hectares of cashew nut trees in the southeast and Highlands regions, there is huge potential to expand cocoa cultivation in Vietnam, Thong said./.