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“If somebody wants to buy anything from another country, they have to be more responsible to the end of it… you just need to stick with it… put your life into it.”-Tomo Zukoshi, Co-Founder of Adi Chocolate and Fijiana Cacao
While the vast majority of travelers will associate Fiji only with resorts, pristine beaches, and tribal dances, some visitors will manage to glimpse another side of the islands. For over 100 years, Fijians have been growing cacao, sometimes sporadically, to be sold into the international market. But in recent years, the Pacific Island nation has seen a local chocolate industry appear and slowly develop, similar to what’s happened in Hawaii.
Since 2005, the islands have had small-batch, direct-trade Fijian chocolate circulating to tourists and locals alike. To discover more about the mysterious tale of Fijian chocolate, I spoke with four people involved in various steps of the supply chain, from growing & harvesting cacao to making & selling chocolate. Today’s episode explores how the islands came to grow cacao, and what the vision is for its future.
To read an article related to this episode, click here.
Topics We Cover
- the history of Fiji & cacao in Fiji
- local interest in consuming and growing cacao, and the level of government help to local farmers
- kava plants as a rival to future cacao planting
- Fijians’ chocolate and dessert consumption
- the main areas where cacao is grown and then chocolate is consumed in Fiji
- tourism’s role in the Fijian chocolate industry, currently and in the future, and what types of products are most popular
- how Fijians make the decision to grow or not grow cacao in the future
0:00-3:55~ An overview of Fijian history insofar as it relates to the country’s cacao culture, and the challenges which the islands face today. (Zain Khan)
3:55-10:50~ The history of how cacao came to Fiji, and how the local tree-to-bar chocolate scene began. (Tomo Zukoshi)
10:50-20:10~ How Cacao Fiji is revitalizing & expanding an established cacao plantation, and the government’s role in furthering the local cacao industry. (Benjamin F.)
20:10-24:30~ What local taste in chocolate and desserts is like, including favorite brands, and the heavy dependence upon tourist dollars. (Zain Khan)
24:30-27:20~ Tourism’s historic role in shaping the local chocolate industry, and how this could play out in the future. (Tomo Zukoshi)
27:20-33:05~ Fijian farmers’ perspective on growing cacao, and a look back on why the eighties were so pivotal for the cacao industry. (Niko O.)
33:05-40:35~ Tomo’s hope for a continued and stronger relationship between local chocolate makers & the farmers they work with. Also, the end of the episode and a small announcement.
More About Our Guests
Tomo Zukoshi: Co-founder of both Adi Chocolate & Fijiana Cacao, direct trade bean-to-bar chocolate makers on Fiji. Check out Fijiana’s Website, Instagram and Facebook.
Zain Khan: Co-founder & Manager of Vanua Chocolate, a young tree-to-bar chocolate company based in Nadi, Fiji. Check out Vanua Chocolate’s Facebook, Instagram, and Website.
Benjamin F.: Operations Manager of Cacao Fiji, a cacao grower and processor in the northern region of Vanua Levu, Fiji. Check out Cacao Fiji’s Facebook, Instagram, and Website.
Niko O.: Caretaker & Manager of Olsen Farm, a cacao plantation in Namao, Fiji. Check out Olsen Farm’s Instagram (must request to follow), and a Youtube Video made of the farm.
Connect With Chocolate On The Road
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On Facebook: @chocolateontheroad
Show music is Roadtrip by Phil Reavis, and our transition music is We’re Gonna Be Around by People Like Us & multiple songs by Lobo Loco. Also includes a clip of “Contract” by Marceau of Freemusicarchive.org, and various recorded nature sounds.