Fijian chocolate producers eye sweet export success

11 June 2015
ITC News
Food safety certification is helping chocolate exporters in Fiji improve quality and secure export deals

Tomo Zukoshi has always been concerned with food safety, but it was only recently that he was convinced they would need to acquire HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) certification for his chocolate factory on the Pacific island of Fiji. That feat was accomplished in December 2014 and, as a result, Zukoshi’s Adi Chocolate Factory is now allowed to export.

But Zukoshi was not content with only acquiring HACCP for his factory, as part of the programme he has also become an ISO2200 certified auditor, allowing him to plan, implement, operate, maintain and update a food safety management system aimed at providing chocolates that are safe for the consumer.

In Fiji, environmental, economic and cultural conditions make food safety a primary concern in the process of making chocolate from local cocoa beans. Moreover, the lack of food safety measures not only affects the consumers, but also endangers the reputation of the business. And that is something Zukoshi and other producers certainly want to avoid.

’It`s our responsibility to trace back and monitor the flow of raw materials and quality following strict guidelines, and make sure that our products are safe from all possible hazards, he said. ‘Especially since my children and people in our community, our country and across the world will consume chocolate made in Fiji.’

The International Trade Centre’s training for HACCP certification, which lasted 16 months, helped Fijian business owners realize that recording of daily activities would assist the standardization process across value chains.

Zukoshi said: ‘We learnt that food safety in a company depends on the cooperation and collaboration of every individual – from farmers to manufacturers as well as consumers.’
The training courses helped business owners understand the logic behind food safety and its management. A loan from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade helped pay for new equipment to achieve compliance. The time and expended for acquiring food safety certification, especially with bringing the factory structure up to HACCP standards, has really paid off in the form of more and higher value sales for Fijian chocolate and farmers supplying Grade A quality beans. Their produce can now be enjoyed hazard-free across the world.

Adi Chocolate, for example, has already secured large orders from Japan and is currently in discussions with distributors in Switzerland, Sweden and the United States.
’Food security must be the prime foundation of food related businesses, as enhancing it also increases the potential of the business and safety of every consumer,’ said Zukoshi.