Ralfe Gourmet bullish Phl to excel in “tablea” making

Grace Melanie L. Lacamiento (The Freeman) - June 11, 2013 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines -Forging strong partnership and continued support from the government and private sector, the local cacao industry that is mainly promoted by Ralfe Gourmet, Inc. continues to elevate tablea in the global market and ensure the sustainable supply of cacao beans for the Philippine chocolate products.

Last Saturday, SM City Cebu and Cebu-based artisan chocolate expert Ralfe Gourmet Chocolate Boutique unveiled the giant Philippine flag at the Northwing Atrium in celebration of the 115th Philippine independence. The catch? It was created using 10,000 assorted tablea chocolates.

Ralfe Gourmet business partner and marketing and communications specialist Edu Pantino said that as a tribute to sovereignty of the Philippines, Filipinos should also patronize local chocolate products that taste better than the imported ones with its locally-produced tablea as raw ingredient.

He added that although the market is popularly known with the Swiss and Belgian chocolates, the best chocolate brands in the world do not grow their own single tree of cacao. Instead, they import the beans from cacao-producing countries such as the Philippines that is known for its tropical climate.

Unfortunately, he said that the country is not even part of the top 10 cacao growers in the world despite the fact that cacao in the Philippines is considered to be the first in Asia.

He further noted that tablea, also known as choco liquor, is common in the local market but has suffered from identity and image problem.

Raquel Choa, president and founder of Ralfe Gourmet, remains optimistic that the Philippines will excel in tablea making and be recognized as a chocolate country with the company’s advocacy to “process our own”.

As a cacao farmer and tablea maker since seven years old, she has always branded tablea as the hidden treasure of Cebu and the Philippines. 

She also expressed gratitude to the Department of Agriculture (DA) that has been very supportive to the thrust of Ralfe Gourmet in uplifting the local cacao industry.

She also cited that there are no problems with the supply of cacao beans as of now, adding that DA has assured the company that there will be no shortage of cacao in the Philippines two years from now.

Ralfe Gourmet has a ten-hectare cacao farm in Balamban. One hectare could produce a ton of chocolates. Cacao is a high-value and long-term crop since its trees bear fruits only after three to five years while grafted cacao trees take two to three years for the harvest season.

Meanwhile, DA assistant regional director for research and Regulatory Services Joel Elumba who represented Secretary Proceso Alcala during the event commended the initiative of the private sector spearheaded by SM City Cebu and Ralfe Gourmet to promote the local cacao industry that is comprised of the marginal farmers throughout the Visayas region and the neighboring provinces.

He added that as Ralfe Gourmet creates an international market niche with SM City Cebu providing an avenue to showcase the Philippine tablea, support has been extended to the local farmers while boosting the country’s economy further.

He then described tablea as “comparable or even much better than the popular brands of chocolate products around the world.”

With its commitment to support the sector, DA is creating and drafting the local cacao industry roadmap to ensure that there is a sustainable supply of local cacao beans for these products

At present, Elumba said that the agency is currently conducting demonstration farms and trainings local cacao farmers, particularly in Bohol and to the rest of the provinces in Central Visayas.

They are also working out to accelerate the procurement of the quality planting materials and the provision of other technical assistance.

He then encouraged the public to cooperate in the promotion and development of the cacao industry.

“I would like to exhort all your cooperation for the promotion of this industry and we, at DA, will commit to support this industry, sa lahat ng aming makakaya. We cannot do this alone, kailangan natin ang suporta ng isa’t-isa,” Elumba stated.

The 115th Philippine Independence Day centrepiece that measures 12ft x 20ft is made up of a hundred kilos of local tablea. Choa had three days of preparation of the Giant Philippine Flag that is conceptualized by SM City Cebu.

The 10,000 variety of chocolates include chocolate pralines with whole cacao nib, alfajores, tablea rice crispies, chocolate sticks, and tablea singles. (FREEMAN)


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