Malagos Chocolate is a leader in fine chocolate sourced from the Philippines.  In this article, Malagos shares how they began the company and how their business model has evolved and adapted during the COVID pandemic. Malagos also explains the high value placed on contributing to the local community and making a difference throughout the value chain.

Who are They?

Malagos Chocolate is part of Puentespina Group of companies, a family-owned corporation based in the Philippines. In 2003, a cacao farm in Malagos, Baguio District, Davao City was up for lease. 

Malagos founders, Roberto & Charita, made the decision to purchase the farm and thus started their cacao journey.   At that time, Malagos was only an exporter of cacao beans but after much consideration, they decided to expand their business portfolio and adopted the Tree-to-Bar business model and direct fine chocolate sales in 2012.

Malagos was so passionate and proud of its business model that they decided to incorporate experiential activities which included building a resort, hosting cocoa farm tours and opening a chocolate museum.  Today, visitors are welcome to join the chocolate-making journey from the cacao farm all the way to finished products in a single day.   

Over the years, Malagos has won many prestigious awards for their chocolates. One of the highlights is having their cacao beans voted as the top 50 cacao beans in the world in 2017.

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They believe that a key to their success has been actively joining relevant competitions and associations such as FCIA to receive feedback on how they can do better to improve bean quality and best practices from other industry leaders.  In the early days of Malagos, there were virtually no cacao experts in the Philippines to consult.  Joining competitions and associations opened access to mentorships and resources needed to advance further in their chocolate journey.

What makes Malagos Chocolate a fan favorite among judges is the unique flavors that can only be found in cacao beans from Davao City, Philippines. The unique terroir gives the chocolate a distinctive taste that cannot be replicated elsewhere. Even though they have their very own cacao farm, Malagos also purchases wet beans from neighboring farms at a premium price to help the local community farmers.

And Their Dream?

Malagos wishes to put Philippine chocolates on the World Map. In order to accomplish this goal, they believe in the power of working together with local communities. Malagos Cacao Development Centre (MCDC) is an institution the company created to train and give guidance to local farmers on good agricultural practices.  Training sessions are typically 3-days long and farmers are hosted at the Malagos resort during their stay for the hands-on training. 

A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats! Chocolate cannot be made alone but with a community, we can produce good quality chocolate with everyone’s effort

Rex Puentespina, Farmer & Chocolate Maker at Malagos Agri-Ventures Corporation

Malagos provides direct feedback to farmers, enabling them to taste the final chocolate product made from their farmer’s harvested beans. The company is making progress toward achieving its dream as the Philippine Congress has formally declared Davao as the chocolate capital of the Philippines.

Malagos is also honored to be the #16 Heirloom Cacao Preservation (HCP) designee, the first in the Philippines, and an affirmation for their efforts in growing cacao that is worthy of passing down to the next generation and more.

Advancing Through The Global Pandemic

Before the COVID pandemic, Malagos was heavily reliant on the tourism industry and gifting culture in Asia. As a result of the pandemic, Malagos had to revamp its business model to be more resilient. They turned their focus back to the domestic market, introducing a range of products for customers to incorporate their chocolates into delicious baked goods or Asian curries right at the comfort of their homes.

Apart from the domestic market, Malagos had also successfully secured sales from international brands, mainly from renowned cafes and 5-star hotels. They also partner with Kevin Charuel from the Tasting Club to conduct virtual chocolate pairing sessions where participants can sign up and receive a box of Malagos Chocolate Bars and Japanese whiskey, cognac or brandy for the tasting session. Due to logistic restrictions, this initiative is exclusively for residents living in the Philippines.

Planting A Seed Of Hope

Other than offering resources available for local farmers, Malagos also supplies planting materials from their nurseries to farmers throughout the country.  Malagos wants to ensure that farmers treat these tree plantings special, not like a commodity, mass planting cacao.  Farmers work with Malagos to jointly invest in the dream of growing, producing and supplying cacao, grown by local communities.  

In summary, Malagos is demonstrating how collaboratively working with all those in the cacao value chain,  a region of the Philippines can grow the Fine Chocolate Industry here in Southeast Asia.  When the international borders are open, Malagos welcomes international partners to experience their hospitality and passion for cacao in the Philippines by visiting their operations in Davao.

‘A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats’

John F. Kennedy

Let’s make waves and lift our communities to achieve more!

This article was supplied to Bartalks by the FCIA, and written by Ren Min Koh

Photo courtesy of Malagos Chocolate
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