Philippine cacao draws interest from Swiss chocolatiers

Geneva, Switzerland – Department of Trade and Industry’s Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) – Geneva tested the cadmium level of Philippine cacao beans and the results are encouraging!


“Davao-sourced fermented cacao beans have low cadmium level that is well within the acceptable values, providing a big opportunity for Filipino cacao farmers,” said Michiel Hendriksz, Executive Director of FarmStrong Foundation.


The test was made in light of the European Union’s (EU) new limits on the cadmium levels in cocoa products by 1 January 2019 (EU No 488/2014) that could pose a serious threat to many smallholder cacao farmers, and present a challenge to chocolate producers.


“While Switzerland is not part of the EU, it adopts the EU General Food Law and exports majority of its chocolate production to the EU. Swiss consumers also have the highest per capita rate of chocolate consumption worldwide,” according to Mr Jean-Benoit Charrin, Director of Operations of FarmStrong Foundation.


Cadmium is a heavy metal found both through natural occurrence and from industrial and agricultural resources. The maximum levels for cadmium in food have existed in EU legislation since 2001. Thus, to reduce exposure levels to the metal in certain food groups where exposure is highest or where the consumer groups were most vulnerable, new recommendations for maximum exposure levels in a range of infant products and cocoa-based products were released. Three maximum levels have been set for chocolate, where the strictest maximum levels apply to chocolate varieties most eaten by children, while a maximum level is also set for cocoa powder destined for direct consumption.


Text Box: From 1 January 2019: • Milk chocolate with below 30% total dry cocoa solids contain no more than 0.10 mg/kg wet weight of cadmium • Chocolate with over 30% cocoa and below 50% must have no more than 0.30 mg/kg of cadmium • Chocolate with more than 50% will have a threshold of 0.80 mg/kg • Cocoa powder sold to the final consumer typically as drinking will have a limit of 0.60mg/ kg Source: (EU) No 488/2014 Cacao beans from Latin America are particularly affected. Previous research has indicated higher levels of lead and cadmium in cacao beans in Latin America compared to beans from West Africa. Cacao beans from West Africa, however, are considered “bulk beans” and lack the flavour Swiss chocolatiers are looking for.


The low cadmium level of Philippine cacao beans brings opportunities for Philippine cacao farmers and producers, particularly in premium products (specialty, fine flavour and certified chocolate) as Swiss chocolate manufacturers look for new sources of cacao beans to protect its international reputation for high quality with many famous international brands.


The Department of Trade and Industry, through the various foreign trade posts, supports Philippine cacao farmers in demonstrating significant progress in the Philippine cacao sectors by aiming at niche markets for high quality and speciality cocoa and chocolate products. Government agencies and farmers/producers need to work hand-in-hand to be able to supply high quality Criollo/Trinitario cacao beans with good traceability and superior quality.


This positive development is also timely in light of the DTI’s thrust to upgrade the Philippine cacao industry in the global value chain. The cadmium level could also feed in the discussion during the Philippines’ hosting of the Asia-Pacific Cacao Congress scheduled from September 15 to 17 at the SMX Convention Center.


PTIC-Geneva works with Swiss cacao distributors, buyers and sourcing organisations, as well cocoa sustainability specialists. FarmStrong Foundation ( is a Swiss public interest organisation that promotes resilient, structured, rural economic development through integrated sustainable agricultural production systems in cocoa growing communities. The cadmium test was done by Intertek Group plc (, a multinational inspection, product testing and certification company headquartered in the UK with testing facilities in 100 countries including Switzerland and the Philippines. (END)



To request for a copy of the cadmium test, please write to PTIC-Geneva (

Written by: TSO Magnolia Uy, PTIC-Geneva.

DTI leads Filipino food promotion in Calgary

Following the successful kick-off in Vancouver, the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will bring the “Flavours of the Philippines” In-Store Promotion to T&T Supermarket in Pacific Place Mall, Calgary, Alberta from 8 June to 10 June 2018.

“It is very timely to showcase the quality of Filipino brands to celebrate our Filipino heritage in time with Independence Day,” said DTI Senior Trade Commissioner Maria Roseni M. Alvero.

On 8 June 2018, T&T Supermarket will start showcasing Filipino food at the dedicated stalls for Flavours of the Philippines through pallet displays and food tasting stations. It will be followed by a ceremony on 9 June 2018 with the Filipino-Canadian community where attendees will be treated to lively music and a vibrant display of Filipino talent with cultural performances by the Philippine Cultural Center Foundation.

Hon. Consul General Gilberto Asuque is expected to welcome the Filipino-Canadian and mainstream community in Calgary during the event.

The event, considered to be a centerpiece trade and cultural program with the Philippine Consulate General in Calgary and the Department of Tourism in San Francisco, aims to reconnect Filipino-Canadians with the motherland in time for the celebration of the anniversary of Philippine Independence. It also aims to increase the consumer awareness and appreciation for Philippine food products among Canadian consumers.

The weekend-long festivities will also include cooking demonstrations of delicious Filipino dishes and big discounts on popular Filipino products.

“We hope that this event will contribute in raising the popularity of Philippine cuisine along the levels enjoyed by other internationally accepted Asian cuisine, ultimately towards increasing the level of Filipino food exports into Canada,” Alvero added.

“Flavours of the Philippines” at T&T Supermarket is the second of a series of In-Store Promotion events in Canada spearheaded by DTI this year, following an In-Store Promotion at the PriceSmart Supermarket in Richmond, British Columbia.

In 2016, Canada was the 16th export market (out of 213) of Philippine merchandise goods. Processed food including processed fruits and vegetables and processed marine and ethnic foods are among the top commodities for export promotion in the said market.

DTI chief opens Bagong Buhay Boracay store

Boracay initiative to help MSMEs of Boracay, Aklan

MAKATI – Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez led the opening of the Bagong Buhay Boracay store, the latest program of the agency in providing market access to the products of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) from Boracay.

“This is just the beginning of bringing Boracay products to the mainstream market. We will continue to extend financial, technical, design, and marketing support to our MSMEs in the area even after the island re-opens,” said Sec. Lopez.

Following the closure of the island to tourists and a series of consultations with the local government and MSMEs in the island, DTI Regional Operations Group, DTI Region VI, Bureau of Domestic Trade and Promotion (BDTP), and Design Center of the Philippines (DCP) pooled their expertise and resources in launching the store in Makati.

The store, located at the BDTP West Wing Showroom, features food delicacies, wearables, fashion accessories, home décor, and souvenir products from 21 MSMEs in the island, comprising of 7 food processing businesses and 14 craft manufacturers. These exhibitors have over 150 beneficiaries in Boracay. Some items available for sale are products of social enterprises supporting out-of-school-youths in Boracay and Aklan.

DTI will also bring Aklanon products to malls, supermarkets, pasalubong centers, airports, seaports, jetty ports in Manila, Cebu, and Iloilo. In a recent development, some items featured in the Bagong Buhay Boracay store will also be carried by Kultura in SM Megamall.

“We guarantee our MSMEs that DTI will keep on providing holistic assistance for their products in terms of microfinancing support through the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3), product development, and innovation. Apart from these, we also help them in branding, marketing strategy development, and market access through Go Lokal! stores as well as of One Town, One Product (OTOP) Philippine hub,” Sec. Lopez added.

Meanwhile, the local government of Malay, Aklan expressed their gratitude to the efforts of DTI in helping the affected MSMEs in the island. Mr. Rowen Aguirre of the Office of Malay Mayor Ciceron Cawaling emphasized the importance of providing new market access to the micro and small entrepreneurs, which primarily depend on their daily income to survive.



DTI will also provide skills training and start-up kits to the residents who wish to engage in other alternative livelihood activities. This include siomai making and screen printing.

“In the coming weeks, we will be launching other events to bring the Boracay experience to the metro. We will have Boracay Festivals in Manila wherein apart from the products we can buy in the island, we will also bring in the activities the island is famous for, such as fire dancing, tattoo artists, hair braiders, caricature artists and more,” said Sec. Lopez.

“We encourage everyone to support our brothers and sisters in Boracay and Aklan by visiting the Boracay Stores and buying their products,” Sec. Lopez concluded.

Business conference showcases Central Luzon, Pampanga’s progress



BIZCON. Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry executives join former president and Pampanga second district Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for a photo opportunity, after her keynote speech at the 27th North Luzon Area Business Conference held at the LausGroup Event Center. (Erika Mariel Gines Photo)


“This area business conference is a testament that indeed, Central Luzon and the province of Pampanga in general, is becoming the center of growth not only in the region but of the whole country.”


This was the statement of Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (PamCham) vice chairman Rene Romero during the culminating ceremony of the 27th North Luzon Area Business Conference (NLABC) held Friday, May 18, at the LausGroup Event Center in the City of San Fernando.


He noted that the three-day event proved to be “one of the most successful” area business conference of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), as it gathered over 600 delegates coming from all over North Luzon.


“We are really very happy with the outcome of our event, as modesty aside, while it is our first time hosting this conference, we have come up with the biggest and most organized NLABC I have seen for the last 30 years that I have been part of the chamber movement,” he relayed.


He added that the positive feedback of the participants proved that event was able to showcase the latest developments in Pampanga which include state-of-the-art facilities, infrastructure, and the province’s renowned hospitality sector, further centering the province’s status as a major economic destination.


“In fact, delegates coming Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), all expressed their awe upon seeing our province’s progress. They said they were impressed of Pampanga’s recent developments including the LausGroup Event Center, our main roads like the Jose Abad Santos Avenue and the McArthur Highway, business districts, the Clark Freeport Zone, and even the hotels and malls including the newly-opened SM City Telabastagan,” he shared.


“This goes to show that we are now experiencing the spill over of Metro Manila and big players are now eyeing us as their next prospect. The NLABC is one of our way of preparing for this forthcoming economic boom,” he added.


The executive then relayed that the business organization will continue to hold on to the claim that “This is our time,” this year’s theme for the 27th NLABC.


“This is just the start, and for a very long time and through the generations to come, we will not stop or plateau. It will be a continuous process,” he concluded.


The prestigious business conference, organized annually by PCCI, aimed to inform, inspire, and motivate businesses to spur countryside economic growth in Central and North Luzon regions.


This year, highlights of the event include plenary sessions led by world-renowned businessman and AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, top Filipino economist Dr. Bernie M. Villegas, and Department of Public Works and Highways Undersecretary for Planning and Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Dr. Maria Catalina E. Cabral, among others.


The event was keynoted by former President and Second District Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who shared the government’s plans and activities currently in the pipeline for the years ahead, demonstrating a strong focus on transforming the province as a ‘Megalopolis’.


Also part of the programs and activities were various seminars, business matchings, networking sessions, invitational golf tournament, and a mini regional trade fair.


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Dip in Philippine competitiveness ranking a ‘wake-up call’ – business leaders

Ralf Rivas


MANILA, Philippines – The sharp fall of the Philippines in the 2018 World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) should serve as a “wake-up call,” business leaders said on Thursday, May 24.


Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) President Alegria Sibal-Limjoco said the dip in the Philippines’ competitive ranking by 9 notches in the 2018 WCY – to 50th place from 41st place last year – is a “wake up call for government and for business.”


Guillermo Luz, Private Sector Co-Chairperson of the National Competitiveness Council, reiterated that the government should pay attention to the numbers of the WCY, as well as other studies.


He explained that results of the study is a snapshot of how the Philippines is performing compared to its peers in Asia Pacific.


“We compete for FDIs, trade, tourists, branding. It is a competition, we need to look at what other countries are doing,” Luz said.


“In the ASEAN region, competition never sleeps. Respondents of these surveys look how we keep up with competition, how government implements regulation, and the measurability in terms of impact in the economy,” he added.


The WCY study rereleased on Thursday revealed that the Philippines is 50th out of 63 economies in terms of overall competitiveness. This is the country’s worst year-on-year decline over the last decade and the steepest drop in Asia Pacific.


The ranking is measured according to 340 indicators, about two-thirds of which are based on data and statistics, and the rest on the perceptions of over 6,300 executives worldwide.


Where it all went wrong


Despite having the fifth strongest real gross domestic product (GDP) growth in Asia Pacific in 2017 at 6.7%, the Philippines’ economic performance saw its biggest drop to 50th from 26th in 2017.


The report noted that the country’s current account deficit fand oreign direct investments (FDIs) were not impressive as compared to 2016. The peso was also dubbed as the most unloved currency in 2017, even posting 11-year lows against the US dollar.


Inflation also accelerated towards the end of 2017. As a result, the domestic economy, one of the sub-factors measured, declined to 24th from 12th place in 2017.


Jamil Francisco, executive director of the Asian Institute of Management’s Rizalino Navarro Policy Center for Competitiveness also noted the disappointing employment figures.


“The economy is resilient. But if you look at the employment of the regular [Filipino], this is where you see the problem because many have come in and out of unemployment,” Francisco said.


Employment in the WCY survey plummeted to 32nd place in 2018 from 4th in 2017. The drop was due to a slight increase of unemployment and a slight decrease in the number of employed as compared to other countries ranked in the survey.


The factor with the second largest drop in rank was business efficiency, now at 38th place from 28th place last year.


The report stated that the decline in business efficiency was caused by the dip in the following sub-factors: labor sector (5th to 19th), finance (33rd to 39th), management practices (28th to 33rd), and attitudes and values (18th to 34th).


The Philippines ranked near bottom the – 62nd place from 59th last year – in overall productivity in labor, agriculture, industry, and services.


Meanwhile, government efficiency experienced a 7-notch drop, now at 44th place from 37th. The decline was driven by dips in public finance (25th to 34th), institutional framework (41st to 46th), business legislation (58th to 60th) and societal framework (51st to 54th).


The country’s infrastructure, ranked at 60th place from 54th in 2017, continued to disappoint. The report noted that the government should also pay attention to basic, education, and scientific infrastructure and not just physical infrastructure.


“Good infrastructure promotes competitiveness by connecting markets and production sites, improving the flow of information and technology, and reducing the costs of production,” the report said.


 Despite the gloomy figures, Limjoco said that investors are still interested to do business in the country and recognized the government’s efforts.


“Despite our competitiveness going down, there is something also that they like in our country. The tax reform will help our country move forward,” the PCCI president said.


Management Association of the Philippines President Ramoncito Fernandez also rallied support for the tax reform program of the government.


“We also support the necessary amendments of certain economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution,” Fernandez said.


The report recommended that the government invest in quality infrastructure, increase human capital, and strengthen institutions.


“In the digital era, workers must learn how to learn fast. Lifelong learning must be founded on quality basic and secondary education,” the report said.


It also stated the need to increase digital competitiveness, as “many jobs are at high risk of automation.”


WCY also recommended the need to manage the recent spike in inflation due to the effects of the tax reform program. –


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 PCCI-Aklan wants review of cancellation of flights

By Jun Aguirre – May 24, 2018


KALIBO, Aklan—The local chapter of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI-Aklan) urges government, especially the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, to review the cancellation of several plane flights at the Kalibo International Airport (KIA).


PCCI-Aklan Secretary-General Guidon de la Cruz said several flights to and from Metro Manila and Cebu have been canceled after nearby Boracay Island was ordered closed for six months starting on April 26.


The closure also saw airline companies doubling ticket prices bound for the KIA.


“Because of this, businessmen, students and balikbayans have to travel to other nearby airports, such as the Caticlan Airport and the Roxas City Airport, to go to Manila. Direct flights to Cebu have also been canceled,” de la Cruz said.


“The reduction of commercial flights at the KIA created economic difficulties for both passengers and cargo traffic,” he added. Meanwhile, the roll-on, roll-off service from Caticlan to Batangas port is also full, brought about by summer travel and strong basic trade between Luzon and the Visayas region, he added.


The PCCI-Aklan board has filed a resolution to engage airline firms in consultation, thereby encouraging them to provide additional flight for Manila-Kalibo and restore the Kalibo-Cebu route even on limited basis.


“The reduction of plane flights also does not help promote local tourism, trade and commerce, which are supposed to be increasing due to expansion of e-commerce, resulting into convenience in the movement of people and goods across our islands,” de la Cruz further said.


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