KOTA KINABALU, June 19 — Malaysia’s exports of cocoa and chocolate products have increased from RM4.2 billion in 2010 to RM6.9 billion last year, said Malaysian Cocoa Board (MCB) director-general Dr Ramle Kasin.
He said the increase was influenced by the rise in the per capita chocolate consumption rate in Asia Pacific countries, which increased from 0.15 kilogrammes (kg) to 0.2 kg during the period.
Ramle said this in a speech at the Sabah Cocoa Festival 2022 here today, which was officiated by Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor.
He said the cocoa festival is expected to catalyse the cocoa industry’s growth through the promotion of locally-produced chocolate products and the expansion of the domestic marketing network which would, in turn, increase revenue, market size and variety of cocoa products.
Meanwhile, Hajiji said Sabah — the country’s main cocoa beans producer — had exported a total of RM16.16 million of cocoa and cocoa products last year, which includes RM7.72 million worth of chocolate exports.
He said Sabah accounted for 59 per cent of the country’s total cocoa bean production, equivalent to 540 tonnes, and accounted for 57 per cent or about 3,444 hectares of the country’s total cocoa plantation area of 6,000 hectares.
“Last year, the sales value recorded by chocolate entrepreneurs in Sabah amounted to RM137,487. I hope they will double their efforts so that there will be more downstream cocoa product entrepreneurs in Sabah.
“There are five districts which are active cocoa cultivation areas in Sabah, namely Ranau, Kota Marudu, Tenom, Kota Belud and Tambunan,” he said.
Hajiji said apart from the five districts, the state government will also consider helping to expand cultivation areas for entrepreneurs and companies wishing to undertake cocoa cultivation in the state.
The production of cocoa beans in Sabah has helped to meet the demand for premium cocoa beans from bean-to-bar chocolate entrepreneurs (those who process dried cocoa beans to become chocolate products).
These include single-origin chocolate entrepreneurs who produce chocolates made from cocoa beans from only one location, and entrepreneurs producing premium chocolates for niche markets — makers of high-quality chocolates made in smaller quantities but fetches high prices.
“This means that the downstream cocoa products can have a significant impact on the state’s economy.
“I have been informed that the Sabah downstream cocoa industry currently comprises five chocolate and cocoa confectionery or cocoa-based food companies as well as 32 local chocolate entrepreneurs,” he said.
The chief minister said various strategies are in place to ensure that the cocoa industry remains a competitive and resilient economic sector, in line with the long-term strategy to increase the industry’s contribution to the country’s economy and revenue.