24th July 2018
Local Vanuatu social enterprise Aelan Chocolate has taken out the top prize in the 2018 Artisan Chocolate Awards.
Judged by a team of acclaimed chefs and experts from national and regional US magazines, newspapers and blogs, it was widely agreed that “all the Aelan Chocolate bars were lovely”.
Established in 2007, Aelan Chocalate has been working with local communities of cocoa growers to rehabilitate plantations and improve fermenting and drying methods. As a social enterprise led by Vanuatu trade organisation ACTIV, all profits are equitably distributed between suppliers.
“It took us some time to reach the quality that is recognised now, and we are very pleased to see those awards which help us to better market our AELAN Chocolate on the niche market of high quality luxury products. Aelan Chocolate Makers is now on the map of the world fine chocolate map!” Aelan Chocolate Founder and Director Sandrine Wallez told the Pacific Periscope.
The sensational results:
Aelan 70% Dark Chocolate | Malekula Origin (Gold for the Best Vegan Chocolate)
Aelan 70% Dark Chocolate | Malo Origin (Gold for the Best Dark Vegan Chocolate, Silver for Best Texture and Top Vegan Chocolate, Bronze for Best Texture)
Aelan 70% Dark Chocolate | Epi Origin (Silver for Best Dark Vegan Chocolate and Silver for Top Vegan Chocolate)
Aelan 70% Dark Chocolate | Chilli Pepper (Silver for Best Spicy Dark Chocolate)
A former volcanologist with a passion for chocolate, Ms Wallez established Aelan with little knowledge of the local industry. Up against a number of naysayers, Ms Wallez was determined to improve conditions for the islands cocoa producers and turn chocolate production into a viable Vanuatu trade.
“We were assisting the cocoa producers in the islands to increase the quality of their cocoa beans with farm management, post-harvest techniques, pruning and grafting trainings with the assistance of scientists from the Australian Centre for the International Agricultural Research,” said Ms Wallez.
“We are really proud of this, especially coming from zero. We started from the bottom for cocoa and for chocolate making, which didn’t exist in Vanuatu before. We are really proud that in less than a decade we’ve reached this high rank level while offering cocoa producers a better market for their beans to improve their livelihood.”
Returning home with two gold medals, five silver medals and a bronze, Ms Wallez has sights set firmly on the international market.
“We are now confident in the high quality of our AELAN Chocolate and we hope to open export market all around the world for high products quality boutiques and provide a better income for the producers we are working with.”