Chocolate Festival 2023 Highlights Exports and Climate Change; Boosts Cacao Industry
The Chocolate Festival 2023 was opened with an all-day symposium where several topics were addressed including exports, foreign trade and climate change. Directorate General for Foreign Trade, Margaret Ventura, spoke on the various international markets can create a boost in the cacao industry.
Margaret Ventura, Directorate General for Foreign Trade: “Why European market? Because it is really the highest, that’s where you get the highest premium for cacao and that has been our experience. Now TCGA has been exporting, Maya Mountain Cacao has been exporting and I know you’ve had your challenges the encouragement from us is how to expand trade to increase Belize’s participation in the broader value chain. Sustainability is crucial in European cocoa market for both the consumers and the industry players. If Belize sells beans to Europe and the quality is not consistent the people who buy the bean to make the chocolate will end up with a product that no longer satisfies the palette of the consumers so we just wanted to make sure that that is given priority. Again the big concern now is health and wellness so people are not interested in buying the products that are not organic that’s the biggest thing right now and so we are looking at how Belize can tap into that niche market because the organic chocolate produced product cater to all price ranges including low end supermarket brands and premium high quality brands and this niche market that we are talking about just to throw out some figures the global organic chocolate industry is projected to experience a steady annual average growth rate of 6.8% from 2021 to 2028.”
Another presenter was the Export Business Advisor, Omar Castillo, who spoke on the importance of the cacao industry and how that ties in with foreign trade. He spoke on the revenues earned from the cacao industry.
Omar Castillo, Export Business Advisor (Beltraide): “Recent data indicates that exportation of cacao and cacao products accounts for just over $1,000,000 and that’s annually to be exact and ten years ago that was a mere or below $400,000 so though that is a commendable increase it also highlights that there is room for a lot of growth in the industry as well. And I know that the aim in our minds is to see those export orders and shipments increase to these countries that Miss Ventura and her team are targeting but we want to also keep in mind that there are a number of avenues that can be taken to access export markets. Tourism continues to be a great revenue generator for Belize so what does that mean? A great or a major focus has to be in continuing or increasing or getting the Belizean cacao products in the hands of these tourists. It can also venture into the realm of experiential tourism giving tourists a glimpse into the Belizean experience or the Belizean process by offering tours on the farms at production facilities etcetera that is exportation as well. So we can see that there is a lot of ways of generating export revenues and we just need to tap into these opportunities.”
The symposium was held on Friday, May 19, 2023.