Factory planned to put Negros on the world chocolate map

Steven DeVries and Chloe Doutre Roussel*

A firm plans to put up a factory in Negros Occidental that will produce craft chocolates from unique locally grown cacao with a distinct taste.

Ricardo Dominic Lopez, CY & Sons Group general manager, said on Thursday, January 26, that his mother Celina Yanson Lopez (CYL) wants to put Negros’ chocolate on the world map.

The CY & Sons Group has a 50-hectare plantation in Barangay Dos Hermanas, Talisay City in Negros Occidental, with 35,000 Criollo variety cacao trees planted on 40 hectares, he said.

“My mother wanted a unique business to stand out from any other business and put Negros on the chocolate map,” he said.

“Our long term plan is penetrating the world chocolate market,” he said.

Negrense farmer Chris Fadriga and CYL, who were inspired to get into cacao farming, discovered that a majority of the rare cacao varieties are actually found in Negros Island. Further research brought them to develop the Criollo variety, which white bean is said to have a distinct taste with tremendous possibilities.

Fadriga won the gold award in the 2021 International Cocoa Awards (ICA) in Paris, for his homegrown Criollo. Fadriga is one of only three Filipinos recognized as among the best cocoa producers in the world.

The CY & Sons Group general manager said they started planting cacao trees in 2017 and are now focusing on the post-harvest side of the business.

His group held a chocolate tasting event in Bacolod Thursday led by Chloe Doutre Roussel from France, a cacao and chocolate connoisseur and international expert, and Steven DeVries, a private cacao consultant from Colorado, USA.

Roussel, who has been leading chocolate tastings for more than 25 years and is jury and president of international chocolate awards, has been recruited by CY & Sons to guide them to develop the best potential out of their cacao plantation.

She said high quality chocolate brands are the way to the future and the CY & Sons “to guide them to develop the best potential out of their cacao”.

DeVries said chocolate produced from the Negros variety has the potential to sit on the top shelf in the chocolate market. The Criollo cacao is a world treasure, he said.

They plan to build a chocolate factory in Negros in four to five years, he said.

The plan is also to get other farmers in Negros to grow the Criollo cacao to have enough supply to be used in the chocolate factory, he said.

The vision is for the Criollo cacao to be replicated through small farmers. They also urge government to support the development of the Criollo beans that will make Negros Occidental known for its rare chocolates, the group said.

Aside from Ricardo Dominic Lopez, CY & Sons was represented by Manolito, Christopher and Matthew Lopez at the chocolate tasting event.*

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