July 20, 2024

Vanuatu’s Chocolate Industry

2 min read

Vanuatu is a charming Pacific Island nation that is renowned for its friendly, laid-back people, its status as a popular tax haven, and its great natural beauty. It is also famous for chocolate! The more than 80 islands that make up the country feature rich volcanic soil that cocoa thrives in, and the perfect climate for growing the world’s favourite treat. Cocoa was first planted in Vanuatu in 1885 and the first cocoa bean to be exported was in 1910. Now cocoa is grown throughout the islands with 22,153 hectares dedicated to the production of cocoa trees. There are around 9000 cocoa growers scattered across Vanuatu producing around 1500 tons of cocoa beans a year worth an estimated $4.5 million Australian Dollars- that’s big business for a small island nation!

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The main cocoa varieties in Vanuatu are “forastero”, “trinitario”, and criollo and all are prized for having full body and very little acidity. Each island boasts that its chocolate has its own unique taste, finding out would be a pleasant undertaking! So, how does the cocoa get from the tree to your candy wrapper? In Vanuatu, Cocoa pods are harvested from cocoa trees twice a year during the dry seasons between May and July, and again from October to March.

Once ready for harvest the pods are split open with machetes, then the white pulp containing the cocoa beans is scooped out. The beans are fermented for up to five days under banana leaves, hessian bags and in boxes, before being placed out in the sun to dry for five days. Once properly dried, the beans are bagged up and sent to the factories where they are then roasted, the outer shell removed, and the pure cocoa nibs ground into a paste using rollers and special conching machines. Milk powder, sugar, and other flavourings are added to the paste after which the chocolate is “tempered” by heating until it forms tiny chocolate crystals! The end product of all this is poured into moulds to set and you have a Vanuatu chocolate bar!

Vanuatu’s chocolate is the delicious product of a real tropical paradise.

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