The maiden participation of seven (7) Filipino micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) at the 23rd edition of the Salon du Chocolat in Paris, considered the biggest chocolate exhibition in the world, was capped by the selection of Puentespina Farms as one of the Top 50 producers of cacao beans around the world by the International Cocoa Awards last October 30 in Paris, France. 
‪The recognition given to Puentespina Farms is a first for the Philippines in a competition that brought in 166 entries from 40 cacao producing countries.  The samples were “evaluated by 41 chocolatiers and sensory evaluation experts from around the world.” 
‪Rex and Jen Puentespina, Farmer/Chocolate Maker, and Managing Director respectively of the same company behind the Malagos brand of chocolates, represented their mother Charita Puentespina during the recognition rites held at the sidelines of the Salon du Chocolat in Paris, France.
‪Mr. Puentespina, who proudly waved a Philippine flag to honor their hardworking cacao farmers when called on stage said that “the recognition bestowed on our cacao beans grown in Davao, is a testament to the truly world-class quality of products grown and developed in the Philippines by Filipino cacao farmers.” 
‪Joining the Puentespinas during the recognition rites were Philippine Cacao Industry Council Chairman Mr. Valente Turtur, representatives from the Philippine Embassy in Paris, the Department of Agriculture, and the Philippine Trade and Investment Centre in Paris. 
‪Also present during the recognition rites were representatives from Philippine cacao companies including Auro Chocolate, Ginto Chocolates, Hiraya, Kablon Farms, NutraRich, and Theo and Philo. 
Together with Malagos Chocolates, and with funding support provided by the Department of Trade and Industry’s Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB) and Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), the group showcased their products at the country’s first business-to-business booth ever set up at the Salon du Chocolat which ran in Paris from 28 October to 1 November. 
According to DTI Undersecretary for Trade and Investment Promotion Group Nora Terrado, “the Philippine participation at the Salon du Chocolat is in line with the DTI’s goal of providing relevant global platforms for Filipino enterprises to have access to, and learn from the international market.” 
‪”The business world is changing rapidly, and it is important for government, in collaboration with the private sector, to constantly identify and be part of truly global  avenues where new opportunities for emerging niche sectors such as the cacao industry may be tapped or tested,” added Terrado. 
Almost 120,000 attendees including traders, chocolate makers, chocolatiers and aficionados and more than 230 exhibitors flocked to Hall 5 of the Porte des Versailles for the five-day Salon du Chocolat.
The cacao industry in the Philippines currently produces around 12,000 metric tons of beans annually. It has doubled since the revival of the cacao industry in the early 2000s. The goal of the industry is to produce about 100,000 metric tons of quality beans by 2022. 
Apart from merely targeting increasing production, cacao industry players are also taking an active role in helping improve its standards.♦
PH Paris Choco Show 4
In photo: The official delegation to the Salon du Chocolat pose before the Philippine booth along with PTIC-Paris Commercial Attache Froilan Pamintuan (third from left) and Eduardo Francisco of PTIC Paris (leftmost). The delegation includes (from left to right): Harleen Jao of NutraRich; Rex Puentespina of Puentespina Farms/Malagos; Pamintuan; Philo Chua of Theo and Philo; Estela Duque of Kablon Farms; Val Turtur of the Philippine Cacao Industry Council; Regional Technical Director Marina Hermoso of the Department of Agriculture Region VII; Joy Angeli Uy of Ginto Chocolates/Bohol; Dalereich Polot of Ginto Chocolates; Laurianne Amacin, stand assistant; Mark Ocampo of Auro Chocolate; Kelly Go of Auro Chocolate; and Francisco.