Vietnam’s cocoa development received a shot in the arm when Puratos Grand-Place Vietnam opened its Cocoa Development Centre & Cocoa Collection and Fermentation Plant in Ben Tre, a province in Mekong Delta of southern Vietnam, on November 14, 2013. Puratos Grand-Place offers products and application expertise in the bakery, patisserie and chocolate sectors, and they have found the chocolate made from Vietnam cocoa bean gives a unique flavor with fruity and spicy note.
Puratos Grand-Place was attracted by Mars being the first global chocolate company to commit to sourcing all of the beans from certified supplies by 2020. They found the inaugural Mars’ Cocoa Development Centre (CDC) in Daklak province in the Central Highland a holistic model for sustainable cocoa production because the facilities and the training took into considerations key elements of economic productivity, quality, social, and environment. The CDC training enables the farmers to ‘know it, apply it, and share it’. Mars’ associates provided the template and the technical expertise to set up this franchised CDC of Puratos Grand-Place. The CDC in Ben Tre will provide sound technical training and support to the farmers in the Mekong Delta and encourage more farmers to grow good cocoa, complementing Mars’ CDC outreach in the Central Highland and southwest provinces.
The Grand Opening was witnessed by the Vice Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam, Mr Le Quoc Doanh; the Ambassador of Belgium to Vietnam, Mr Bruno Angelet; former Vice Minister of Industry and Trade, Chairman of Vicofa, Mr. Luong Van Tu; and the President of the Puratos Group, Mr Eddy Van Belle. Throughout the various speeches, Mars’ leadership and contributions on global cocoa sustainability and Vietnam cocoa development were frequently mentioned and acknowledged.
Cocoa production at present is about 5,000 tons in Vietnam. With the Vietnamese government now recognizing cocoa as a strategic new crop, and the private sector stepping up its participation and contribution to empower and enrich farmers by building capacities and capabilities, the vision of 50,000 tons of Vietnamese beans by 2020 is no longer a pipe dream.