Feature: China's import expo to boost Colombia's cocoa industry

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BOGOTA, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- The 6th China International Import Expo (CIIE), to be held in Shanghai from Nov. 5 to 10, offers an important platform for the development of Colombia's cocoa industry, said companies of the South American country participating in the exhibition.

Each year, "Colombia produces around 68,000 tons of cocoa," Maria Carolina Angulo, co-founder and CEO of premium chocolate maker Lok Foods, told Xinhua. "The cocoa we supply the world is very special, labeled as 'fine' and 'aromatic'."

Lok Foods produces high-end chocolates from cocoa beans grown in different regions of Colombia, said Angulo, adding that "more or less 52,800 families depend on the cultivation of cocoa for their livelihood."

According to business owners in the sector, being able to access the Chinese market means a boost to ensure the well-being of thousands of families involved in the production chains, by adding added value to raw materials.

That's the case with producers of cocoa, chocolate's raw material.

In the last 10 years, Colombia has registered sustained growth in cocoa cultivation, going from 41,670 tons in 2012 to 62,158 tons in 2022, an almost 50 percent increase in a decade, data from the National Federation of Cocoa Growers showed.

The growth comes from the country's ability to generate an international brand, whose quality has opened the doors to the world's top markets, including China, where consumption habits have changed thanks to the importation of goods through expositions such as the CIIE in Shanghai, Angulo said.

"Before in China they consumed chocolate made with milk and high sugar content. Nowadays they are consuming more and more dark chocolate," said the business leader, whose product will be exhibited for the sixth consecutive year at the expo.

Ingrid Chaves, the executive director of the Colombian Chinese Chamber of Investment and Commerce, believes the alliances the expo has forged with companies such as Lok Foods benefit the commercial ties between the two countries.

"The CIIE and Lok have worked hand in hand at every edition of the exposition to make Colombian cocoa known to the world," Chaves said during a tasting of premium chocolates.

"At the chamber, we want to build up these non-traditional exports," she said.

Colombia's National Federation of Coffee Growers and specialty coffee brands will also attend the expo in Shanghai, as will companies that mine and export emeralds, with both being signature exports of the South American country.

"Opening the market in China will always be of great value for Colombian companies, because it is an infinite market," said Chaves. Enditem

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