22 Sep 2017

Chocolate and coffee from the Pacific on show New Zealand

4:22 pm on 22 September 2017

Five Pacific countries aim to grab the attention of the New Zealand market with their coffee and chocolate products.

Koko Loa

Koko Loa Photo: Supplied/ SPASIFIK

The annual Chocolate and Coffee Show in Auckland has a specially designed Pacific-themed stand hosting Samoa, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.

The companies from the Pacific are part of the Pacific Trade and Invest programme, which helps them gain a better understanding of the New Zealand market.

C-Corp New Zealand began in 2006. The chocolate factory in Tauranga opened its doors in 2013 producing Solomons Gold chocolate and cacao nibs.

The general manager Glen Yeatman said he considers their chocolate to be a health product.

"I actually had an elderly lady come up to me at the Tauranga food show this year and tell me just how good the nut bar is for keeping her sickness at bay.

"Our products are so high in antioxidants," he said.

"We have parents with children who can't have a nut in their chocolate and love our products because there are no nuts, there's no dairy, there's no soy in our stuff. Just cacao and sweetener.

"We had the cacao tested at Massey University and the antioxidant level was nearly ten times more than spinach," he said.

Solomons Gold cacao

Solomons Gold cacao Photo: RNZI / Indira Stewart

Mr Yeatman wants to see Solomon Islands' products flourish in the New Zealand market.

"The Solomon Islanders own the land and they always will do and what we do is we work with them to help with good crop rotation.

"The problem with cacao in general is that unless you keep it young, it doesn't produce as good as it should," he said.

"Our products are naturally organic for example we let the bugs control. We don't spray with herbicide or pesticide.

"We are trying to keep the cacao beans from the Solomons as natural as possible, in order to make the best chocolate in New Zealand," he said.

Tagaloa Eddie Wilson, (right), and his wife.

Tagaloa Eddie Wilson, (right), and his wife. Photo: RNZI/ Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Wilex Samoa is a family business, started in 1986, that is behind Koko Loa chocolates, which was launched in November 2016.

The name of the chocolate comes from combining the mystical god Tagaloa with the Samoan word for cocoa, allowing the meaning to read "food of the gods".

Managing director Tautaituasivi Tagaloa Eddie Wilson wanted his products to provide a message of longevity and perseverance.

"Cocoa from Samoa is well known world-wide as a flavour bean used for premium chocolates in Europe, in America and especially in our neighbouring countries New Zealand and Australia."

"When we ventured into making chocolates in Samoa, it was a challenge.

"The heat in Samoa is enemy number one for chocolate and humidity is enemy number two.

"Our Koko Loa formulation is a tropicalise formulation, which is aimed at increasing the melting point, so it doesn't melt in the heat.

"Samoa's average temperature is 30, 31 degrees Celsius. The melting point of our chocolate is 34 to 38 and so we're trying to increase it," he said.

"I think over the years, we've been able to develop processes that enables us to capitalise and bring out a product with unique quality."

Alipate Mafile'o and Emeline Afeaki-Mafile'o of Tonga's Tupu'anga Coffee have been in the business for over 10 years, but this is the first time they have joined the Chocolate and Coffee show.

Tupu’anga Coffee

Tupu’anga Coffee Photo: Supplied/ Affirming Works

The company began as a way to help the Pacific youth in Auckland.

The couple run the coffee farms in their homeland as well as Affirming Works, a mentoring programme for young Pacific people in south Auckland schools.

Mr Mafile'o said that every coffee that comes from Tonga is donated to their company Affirming Works.

He said all profits that are made go back to the programme helping youth.

Mr Mafile'o said being part of the event in Auckland is not just about networking, but getting their story out there.

"Tupu'anga means to grow from your roots."

"Being a Pasifika person, my wife and I wanted to bring our story to our customers, to show them how we've started from a grassroot level and progressed up to where we are today."

Vanuatu's Tanna Coffee and Papua New Guinea's Paradise Food will also be making an appearance at the 2017 Chocolate and Coffee show.

Pacific Trade and Invest Trade Development Manager Joe Fuavao said this is a good opportunity for Pacific companies to build profile and presence in Aotearoa, New Zealand.