Many may not know Taiwanese chocolate has won many international competitions.It shows the quality of Taiwanese chocolate and its strong market differentiation. Taiwan is small but has its own unique advantages, the short distances between farms to factories make it easier to produce quality products. Taiwan produces some of the world’s most sustainable chocolate. The journey of making Chocolate in Taiwan wasn’t the easiest, it was a grinding, unglamorous working process up and till the present day. Farmers in Pingtung have finally enjoyed the taste of sweet victory that chocolate has brought them.
Betal Nuts to Chocolate Plantation
-History with the Taiwanese Cocoa Industry
The chocolate farms in Taiwan have its own transformational story, the plantations today for Chocolate were originally for Betel Nuts. From the 80s to the early 90s, the economy of Taiwan grew rapidly, the large labor force created a massive industrial infrastructure. Betel nuts were used to give a sense of alertness and stimulation for workers in the much needed labor-intensive working environment. “It was the nation’s second-largest crop to 17.5 percent of the adult male population, according to government estimates.”(Health officials take on betel-nut business from Taipei Times)
However, it’s also a cause of oral cancer. Betal nuts were very popular in Taiwan 20 years ago. The Taiwanese government tried to change this deadly addiction, the government gave farmers incentives to plant other crops that are beneficial not only to the environment but also to the health of the people. Since, chocolate and betel nuts share the same natural environment, many farmers found out that they can grow chocolate instead. This started the chocolate plantation industry in Pintung.
According to Colitian(organic chocolate farmers of Pingtung and 邱氏咖啡巧克力 Choose Chius) , the origin of the Chocolate plantation in Taiwan is in the Nanzhou Township , a rural township in Pingtung County. The seed was originally imported by individuals, from an Indonesia business man visiting Taiwan, back in the Japanese colonization period. However, the farmers back then didn’t have enough knowledge on how to make cocoa plants into its viable economic product: Chocolate!
In 2002, Chiu Ming-sung (邱銘松) was one of the very first betal farmer who took a chance on cacao. Now, he is know as the “Cacao Father of Taiwan”. Chiu, grew more than 700 cacao trees. Initially, with over 40 years of experience, it wasn’t a problem for an experienced farmer, especially since Taiwan has many well-knowledged workers and was and is still one of the most successful food producers in the world. However, the high production cost was an obstacle! None of the Chocolate factories were willing to buy cacao seeds from Chiu, because it was much easier to get cheaper cacao beans from Africa or Latin America where they have the largest cacao plantations.
However, a challenge is also an opportunity. Chiu decided to study the production process on his own, from harvesting, fermenting, drying, roasting to baking. Also because there wasn’t any chocolate farms or factories in Taiwan, Chiu was forced to establish a whole independent line of work on his own. He had to order the customized machinery from the factory to process the cocoa beans. Chiu studied the cocoa production process from online resources and kept experimenting. He took advantage of the small continent of Taiwan which made them able to do a tree-to-bar business model because everything and everyone are all so close to each other. Regardless, everything was bootstrapped, this is how Taiwanese chocolate markets differentiated themselves from the other cacao-growing nations.
One thing about Taiwan is the generosity of the people. Chiu, the chocolate pioneer, started to coach other farmers into bean-to-bar makers over the past 10 years!! They roast and grind the beans themselves before making them into chocolate bars. They´re not only chocolatiers but all in one bean-to-bar chocolate makers! Making chocolate from cacao beans!! Chiu was one of the contributing factors of how Taiwanese Chocolate is able to make its name in the world’s confectionery map! Taiwan has become an emerging chocolate producer with over 30 chocolate makers in Pintung, seducing the world and earning many renowned international chocolate awards.
High End Chocolate
Taiwanese chocolate isn’t cheap, however, instead of driving the price down and sacrificing the quality of the product, Taiwanese chocolate farmers are focused on and pride themselves in its additive-free, pesticide free product. Taiwanese chocolate is also fair trade, ideal with organic guarantees!
Much of the chocolate from Africa is involved with child labor, you vote with what you purchase. Why not buy chocolate from local Taiwanese farmers. Connect with local communities and end child labor all together.
Plan a Chocolate Trip Now to Pintung
- 邱氏咖啡巧克力 Choose Chius
№328, Fufeng Road, Neipu Township, Pingtung County, 912
Close on Monday
923, Pingtung County, Wanluan Township
If you want me to buy any chocolate from the farmers please email me at email@example.com, I can help:) (I don’t get any cut from the farmers by doing so, just simply want to promote Taiwanese Chocolate)