GENERAL SANTOS CITY — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Region 12 has collaborated with SM City General Santos for the showcase of the region’s finest chocolate products in the Cacao Mindanao Artisan Chocolate Fair.

The fair, which highlights the best-produced chocolate and chocolate-related products of DTI 12-assisted micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), is now on its second year and is being held at the Event Center of SM City Gensan until June 12.

Similar chocolate product fairs were also launched today in different SM malls throughout Mindanao.

Rictoniel Reginio, the OIC Assistant Regional Director of DTI 12, mentioned during his keynote message that while Region 12 may not be the number one cacao producer in the Philippines, the region is not far behind, with the province of Cotabato having the largest cacao plantation in the area, and is being assisted through the Industry Cluster Enhancement (ICE) Program and Rural Agro-enterprise Partnerships for Inclusive Development and Growth (RAPID Growth) Project of DTI.

“Region 12 is not far behind in the production of cacao, as expansion is happening with the province of Cotabato being the largest in the region. We understand the potential of cacao production, which is why at DTI, we are examining the entire value chain and its benefits to the entire economy,” said Reginio.

Reginio added that cacao is one of the priority commodities supported by DTI, and the industry will benefit from the setup of the Regional Inclusive Innovation Center (RIIC) in the region.

RIICs are enabling networks or platforms, either physical or virtual, that serve as enabling networks or platforms that connect government, academia, and industry to promote market-oriented research and the creation of new products and services, aiming to enhance the competitiveness of the manufacturing, agriculture, and services sectors.

Hermon Hernandez, the mall manager of SM City Gensan, mentioned that they have observed progress in the industry, from cacao bean to chocolate bar, since the first mounting of the chocolate fair and highlighted that this endeavor is SM’s support for homegrown chocolate products.

Sharing his journey in the industry, Ricardo Magnayon, Jr., owner of Ricardo’s Chocolate Shop and one of the exhibitors, reminded the public of DTI’s call to patronize locally produced products, including chocolates. He said that despite the region’s limited advantage in chocolate processing technology, he expressed confidence in the excellent flavors of Region 12’s cacao beans and hopes that the region will be recognized in the world chocolate map in the future. ♦

Date of release: 02 June 2023