KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia is targeting to become the “King of Chocolate in Asia”, after the local cocoa industry raked in RM5 billion (S$1.65 billion) in exports last year.
This was the highest recorded for the industry, and it was due to the high demand and stable price of cocoa, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong.
He added that efforts were being taken to increase the production of cocoa to make Malaysia the next “King of Chocolate in Asia”.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, Asia’s top producer of cocoa is Indonesia.
“It is estimated that the cocoa industry contributed a total of RM1.566 billion to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), consisting of RM16mil from the upstream sector and RM1.406 billion from the downstream sector,” said Mah in his opening address of the Malaysia Cocoa and Chocolate Day (MCCD) 2016, which was read by Malaysian Cocoa Board chairman Datuk Dr Marcus Makin Mojiggoh.
The MCCD, themed “Cocoa-More than Words”, is a promotional programme organised by the ministry in conjunction with the international Cocoa Day celebrated on Oct 1 each year.
Mah said the cocoa industry had spurred 25,000 employment opportunities for locals last year, with its chocolate and confectionary-based manufacturing sector expanding a total of 3 per cent, from 13,400 metric tonnes in 2014 to 13,800 metric tonnes in 2015.
“At the moment, we have 49 chocolate and confectionary-based factories, consisting of 185 local entrepreneurs that are operating across the country with a sales value of RM721 million,” he said.
Among the main challenges faced by the industry is the imbalance between its processing industry and local cocoa production.
“Local cocoa production could not keep up with the demand from the processing industry, causing a market risk for local players,” he said.
At the event, the ministry also launched a new fertiliser known as MCB F1 HYFer, specifically for cocoa, which had been found to increase its production by 20 per cent compared with conventional fertilisers.