Partnering for a richer cocoa industry
More sweet days ahead for Papua New Guinea’s very own chocolate company, Queen Emma Chocolate following the signing of a new partnership to improve its cocoa quality, supply, and production.
The signing of a new agreement between local food leader Paradise Foods Limited (PFL), parent company of Queen Emma Chocolate, and the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Plus (PHAMA Plus) Program reinforces their long partnership and builds a stronger and sustainable export market with high-quality value-added cocoa products produced from cocoa sourced from cocoa farming families across PNG.
Through Australia’s and New Zealand’s support, PHAMA Plus will assist Queen Emma Chocolate’s network of growers to attain organic certification for the New Zealand and Australia markets, directly responding to feedback and market demand for certified organic cocoa.
According to Queen Emma’s General Manager, Karina Makori, the flexibility and responsiveness of PHAMA Plus’ partnership, especially in the crucial early years, has made all the difference.
“We are grateful for our partnership with PHAMA Plus. Thank you for persevering with us and seeing the importance of cocoa in the economic framework of PNG,” Ms Makori said.
“Cocoa farming provides a direct income to over 150,000 households across PNG, we source our cocoa locally from over 2000 households. Queen Emma Chocolate has benefited from many previous interventions supported by PHAMA Plus and we are looking forward to this next set of activities as they directly align with our endeavours to expand into the international arena.”
The company sources most of its cocoa supply from three provinces – the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Morobe, and Madang – as well as some from East New Britain (ENB), Oro, Milne Bay, East Sepik and Central. The Program will also support Queen Emma Chocolate’s market growth and development activities geared towards creating and growing export markets for its products and securing better prices for PNG cocoa growers.
At the signing, New Zealand Deputy High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea Nathan Ross said: “We’re proud to be associated with the success story of Queen Emma Chocolate and the pride it has of sourcing locally grown PNG cacao, processing into quality products, and making a difference in the lives of cacao growers.”
The Australian High Commission’s Counsellor (Economics), Derek Brown shared equal sentiments: “Australia is proud of this partnership with New Zealand, to support Paradise Foods Limited and Queen Emma Chocolate. The reputation of PNG cocoa is growing as a result of the work under this partnership.”
PHAMA Plus and formerly PHAMA has had a long and productive relationship with Paradise Foods Limited through the work of its chocolate factory and the outreach it has on its supply network of cocoa farmers across the country, said PHAMA Plus Country Manager Sidney Suma.
“In this partnership, we look forward to building on the gains of the past interventions and focus on growing exports of semi-processed cocoa products and increasing use of PFL products domestically,” Mr Suma added.
With Gender Equality, Disability and Social Inclusion at the core of the partnership, PHAMA Plus will also support the development of PFL’s Family and Sexual Violence Policy and its implementation to build a safer and more inclusive workplace for its women-led factory.
Through PHAMA Plus support, Queen Emma Chocolate has been able to cut costs for local cocoa farmers and develop new cocoa products by co-investing in small-scale laboratory facilities. This allowed PFL to develop smaller batches of different chocolate products for various markets and provide targeted feedback on quality to smallholder suppliers. The mini lab also enabled five additional staff to be trained who now work in the lab. It also enabled an increase of chocolate products in the local market and increased the supply of cocoa from farmers allowing more farmers to be part of the PFL supply value chain.
In 2021, PHAMA Plus supported four commercial trial shipments of bulk cocoa products to six buyers in Australia. Other support included, doing microbiological and chemical analysis of PFL’s cocoa products, and a sign language training to bridge the communication gap and promote inclusivity in the workplace.
PHAMA Plus’ support towards this partnership will contribute to improved cocoa quality and productivity, acquiring new market access and achieving the program’s overall goal to improve rural livelihoods.