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‘The Revolution Continues’

Sasha Harrinanan Thursday, July 6 2017

click on pic to zoom in

Chocolate is the most famous value-added product made from cocoa. Dark chocolate; known for its health benefits, is among the many cocoa-based products being showcased at TIC 2017 this Thursday through Sunday at the Cocoa Development Company Limited (CDCTTL) pavilion.

The Trade and Investment Convention (TIC); hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association, is being held at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya from July 6 to 9.

To find out more about the cocoa products being showcased this year, Business Day spoke with Jenson Alexander, CDCTTL Director and Chairman of the CDC-TIC 2017 Planning Committee.

“Visitors will be treated to the delights of mixologists, cuisine and nutraceuticals, along with a wide range of lotions and chocolates. Our intention is to showcase the diversity in the cocoa industry.”

According to the website, www. news-medical.net, nutraceuticals is a broad umbrella term that is used to describe any product derived from food sources with extra health benefits in addition to the basic nutritional value found in foods.

Last year was the first time that CDCTTL had a presence at TIC, following which it has seen an increase in cocoa production; based on information from individual farmers.

“But moreso,” Alexander said, “we have seen a greater interest by farmers who wish to get involved in value adds. CDCTTL executives have also met with farmers and persons who have committed to rehabilitate their fields with a view to increasing local production.”

While he declined to say how much it cost to rent a pavilion at TIC, Alexander did tell Business Day that the 2017 edition costs “much less than what was spent last year.”

“We see it as an investment, as we showcase some 17 exhibitors within the space over the four-day period.”

For its investment to be considered a success, the CDCTTL would like to see “an increase in the number of persons who see that cocoa is option for creating products which will lead to our farmers increasing production.”

Asked why the theme “The Revolution Continues” was chosen for the CDCTTL’s 2017 pavilion, Alexander explained that they want everyone onboard to help grow Trinidad and Tobago’s (TT) cocoa sector.

“Locally, a trending issue is that of young entrepreneurs in converting local high-quality cocoa into local high-quality chocolate (75 percent to 80 percent cocoa content). The vision/revolution is limitless – not just exporting cocoa beans abroad. Not limiting ourselves to the production of chocolates. There are value-added products for the pharmaceutical industry, such as soaps and creams, as well as gourmet cocoa cuisine, using the cocoa pods for production of handicrafts.”

Information about all 17 exhibitors at the CDCTTL pavilion will be available on the company’s Facebook page, complete with links to each company and product information.

Speaking about product trends the CDCTTL has observed since TIC 2016 and how local farmers and cocoa product manufacturers trying to make the most of this opportunity, Alexander noted that TT has many producers of chocolates, as evidenced by the exhibitors last year and those this year.

“One in particular has since launched a caf? offering a range of cocoa value-added products. There has also been a trend to offer darker chocolates, known for its health benefits since the local consumer population is becoming more discerning.”

While many of these products are available in local stores, Alexander said more marketing has to be done if the general public is to be more aware of the various producers and the products they sell.

The CDCTTL plans to address this as part of a strategic plan for the cocoa sector. This is “in its final stage”, following which it “will work with all stakeholders to make this a reality.”

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