Minister gives ‘Vincentian Chocolate’ stamp of approval
September 30, 2016
Minister gives ‘Vincentian Chocolate’ stamp of approval

The Minister of Agriculture has given the nod to the locally produced Vincentian Chocolate, asserting that it will put St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) on the international map as a “chocolate bar producing nation”.

The dark chocolate bar, which the St Vincent Cocoa Company (SVCC) officially made available for sale at all major supermarkets last Friday, is 72 per cent chocolate and 28 per cent sugar {{more}}– making it a healthier alternative to regular milk chocolate bars.

“I know that all Vincentians are happy, that we are proud that we are able to produce such an excellent chocolate bar,” enthused Saboto Caesar, Minister of Agriculture, Industry, Forestry, Fisheries and Rural Transformation.

“I am certain that our brothers and sisters in the diaspora are looking forward to tasting this quality chocolate bar!”

Caesar, who made the statement in audio released by his Ministry yesterday, was enthusiastic in not only thanking the SVCC on its latest achievement, but also in recognizing the “hard work and dedication” of local cocoa farmers.

“There are many persons who thought that the project was not targeting agro-processing, and it was only the production of beans. But here we are seeing that a lot of value is added right here in St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

The dark chocolate bar, which retails at EC$12.50, has been creating quite the buzz among Vincentians, with a mixture of positive and negative reviews being posted on social media.

Whilst some consumers were not impressed with Vincentian Chocolate because they do not like the slightly bitter taste of dark chocolate, many others have lauded it as being of great quality and taste, and a reasonable price.

In the September 20 edition of SEARCHLIGHT, managing director of the SVCC Andrew Hadley had expressed his confidence that cocoa has the potential to be SVG’s next cash crop.

Hadley had also pointed out that the cocoa grown here is a “fine flavoured”, high quality variety, used in premium-priced chocolates.

In February 2016, The Telegraph (UK) published an online article (‘World Chocolate Day: 10 convincing health reasons you should eat more of the stuff’) that outlined scientific research into the benefits of eating dark (70 per cent or more) chocolate.

The advantages include being good for the heart and circulation; reduces risk of stroke; rich in minerals; reduces cholesterol; protects the skin against sun damage; can aid in weight loss; reduces stress levels in expectant mothers; may prevent diabetes by way of improving insulin sensitivity; reduces memory loss in older people; and contains a chemical which encourages the brain to release “feel-good endorphins”.

Vincentian Chocolate was officially launched on December 22, 2015. This came four years after the SVCC was founded in 2011 by UK-based Armajaro Trading Company, in a thrust designed to encourage the cultivation of alternative crops, following the decline in the banana industry.

After Armajaro was sold to Ecom Agrotrade Ltd in 2013, its agreement with the Government (to revitalize the cocoa industry) was cancelled. However, later that same year, a consortium of investors acquired SVCC from Ecom Agrotrade and revitalized the cocoa project.

Agriculture Minister Caesar also continued to encourage farmers to further invest in crop diversification – as well as maintaining banana cultivation – briefly mentioning that he is looking forward to the investment of Shenton Farms (owned by UK businessman Colin Shenton) in creating a local coffee industry. (JSV)