Sensory evaluation training to help test cocoa quality

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Monday, March 12 2018

Twenty one participants from the cocoa industry around Papua New Guinea attended a three-day Sensory Evaluation Capacity Training at Tavilo, East New Britain last week.

They travelled from as far as West and East Sepik, Bougainville, Morobe, Madang and East New Britain provinces.

The training was facilitated by the Australia and New Zealand-funded Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) Program in collaboration with the Cocoa Board of PNG.

Sophin Malakhu uses a straw for a taste test during the sensory evaluation capacity training. PC: Elias Nanau

PHAMA provides technical assistance and funding to help governments and private sector partners open new market access as well as maintain and improve existing access.

Participants at the training comprised both men and women who are cocoa farmers and managers who have produced award-winning products and produce cocoa beans for export.

Grace Klembasa from Aitape, West Sepik, manager of a local company, hailed the training as an eye opener.

“I have learnt about the quality of chocolate and one interesting thing I learnt is the profile flavour of chocolate. It blew my mind because that’s the end product of the quality of beans we produce as farmers because we send our beans to specialist markets or the boutique market,” she said.

Klembasa grabbed the gold award at the inaugural Cocoa Warwagira that was held in Kokopo last year.

Kathleen Linnix from Nunu Chocolate in Bougainville also participated in the training and has learnt to appreciate a new touch of cocoa.

“I didn’t know that chocolate was very special. It’s like a feminine cash crop,” she said.

She said she would share what she learnt with farmers saying, “the end result of a fine cocoa will always be beautiful chocolate”.

Originally from Central Province, Linnix exports cocoa beans direct to a company in Canberra with support from her family who help produce Nunu Chocolates.

Staff members of the Cocoa Board also attended the training that was delivered by Martin Christy from the United Kingdom. Christy is the co-founder of the International Institute of Chocolate Tasting and has been immensely involved in cocoa tasting around the world.

Christy said the demand for cocoa and good chocolate is still taking off so there’s potential for PNG cocoa to be competitive in the world market.

One of the important sessions Christy delivered was for participants to evaluate the quality of cocoa through tasting.

Chocolatiers and chefs from Japan and Taiwan who were interested in PNG cocoa also travelled to East New Britain at their own cost and actively participated in the training.

A representative from Queen Emma Chocolate, Phyllis Toleasa-Ivosa, said the training was a bonus for the company which has started manufacturing chocolates.

“We are trying to set up our quality assurance division and we need expertise like this to teach us how to flavour profile to pick out other chocolate that we Papua New Guineans do not have much knowledge on. I would encourage this program to be fully supported and continued,” Phyllis said.

She said it was critical that local cocoa tasters graduate and have the ability to test the quality of cocoa through tasting.

For further information, contact Sidney Suma at s.suma@phama.biz or on +675 7640 3290

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