Local Woman-Led Chocolate Brand Highlights Use of Davao Cocoa
Located in the cocoa capital of the Philippines, Nutrarich Nutraceutical Innovations, NutraRich for short, is an FDA-registered chocolate manufacturer that uses locally sourced cocoa.
He works hand in hand with the farmers of Davao to guarantee the quality of the cocoa beans they use for their chocolates.
Behind this venture is Harleen Jao, 32, who formed NutraRich in 2015 due to her interest in cocoa beans.
With the help of government agencies, Jao’s fascination with culture grew over time, fueled by his attendance at exhibitions, promotional events, and technology seminars.
This has contributed to the continued growth of his business in terms of size, credibility and capability.
NutraRich boasts its best-selling tablea which is a perfect ingredient for traditional Filipino hot chocolate. Jao says, “The tables are rich in antioxidants, high in fiber and minerals.”
She continues: “NutraRich has innovated its manufacturing process to offer a tablea that is easy to melt, easier to cook and no longer leaves coarse granules. In this way, NutraRich looks forward to bringing back the Filipino drinking chocolate tradition.
The company has also explored different uses for cocoa beans over the years. Besides tablea, it has also expanded into other categories such as milk and dark chocolates, cocoa nibs, cocoa powder, chocolate mixes and cocoa spread. He also incorporated other products such as mangoes from the Philippines and durian into the chocolates.
In 2018, it also started serving industrial customers for ice cream production and pastry applications.
In 2020, NutraRich obtained HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) and GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certifications by TUV Nord which validates their food safety control measures.
Today, NutraRich sells about a ton of its products every month.
Despite all these accomplishments, it hasn’t always been easy to keep the business running, especially when the pandemic hit.
Rising production costs due to rising raw material prices become a challenge for them to stay in the business. “We solve them by optimizing our operations through proper planning, projection and use of our available resources,” Jao said.
Jao, who is also NutraRich’s chemical and production engineer, runs his manufacturing business full-time.
She said that the cooperatives where she sources her raw materials have “integrated good agricultural practices and are beneficiaries of different government projects that ensure the quality and sustainability of agricultural management at post-harvest facilities as well as programs for her members, the community and its surrounding environment. .”
One of their partner cooperatives is the Multipurpose Cooperative of Rural Workers and Agrarian Beneficiaries of Malita (MARWABEMPCO) in Davao Occidental, which owns more or less 15 hectares of land devoted to cocoa.
However, due to the drop in the purchase price of cocoa in the region, usually ranging from 80 to 90 pesos per kilo, the cooperative is focusing more on the cultivation of Cavendish bananas.
The current president of MARWABEMPCO says that they supply about 1.5 to 2 tons of cocoa to Jao every three months. He adds that she pays 140 pesos per kilo for their cocoa, which is more than the purchase price. This contributes to the sustainability of their remaining cocoa trees.
Not only does the brand support farmers in the region, but it also represents the country by exporting its products and making them available in select stores in the United States.
Jao advised others to maximize the export potential of their businesses by: (1) focusing on food quality and certification; (2) know the target market (such as age group and nationality) to ensure export sustainability; (3) reach out to influencers to showcase products; (4) and participate in food exhibitions that cater to international markets where they can get feedback on consumer taste preferences.
NutraRich products are available for as little as P150 in almost all major supermarkets and airports nationwide.
Jao plans to bring more Filipino chocolates to the global market while meeting its high food safety and quality standards.
Read more: The market popotential for value-added cocoa products in the Philippines
Photos courtesy of Harleen Jao
For more information, visit NutraRich
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