Leading Papua New Guinea downstream food processing entrepreneur Micky Puritau, founder of Paradise Spices, has been engaged by the department to lead the team carrying out the study.
The company, no newcomer to PNG cocoa and chocolate production, already exports PNG vanilla, chilli, pepper, galip nut, cardamon, tumeric, nutmeg, cocoa nibs, ginger, cinnamon, virgin coconut oil and pure vanilla extract to many countries around the world.
Puritau says there is no reason why a chocolate factory shouldn’t be a goer in the country.
“Many overseas companies have told us that chocolate is not viable in this country,” he said.
“I’m totally against this.
“We’ve proved it in the vanilla industry.
“With exports of vanilla, we were getting margins of 40%, but when we produced finished products, we were actually getting 200-500% margins.
“I don’t see any reason why chocolate can’t also reach these margins.
“We have the production on the ground, the issue is when can we do it (produce chocolate).”
Puritau says PNG’s cocoa industry will be on to a winner with the establishment of a chocolate factory.
“Let me say that it’s going to be a successful chocolate company.
“You don’t have to look for markets as there are markets already available.
“People who say that there are no markets are actually telling you lies.
“We believe that downstream processing is the way to go for this country.”
Puritau said Paradise Spices had already proved that chocolate could be produced in the country.
“We did some small-scale chocolate production and I can tell you this: the quality of the chocolate we produced was of high, premium value,” he said.
Maru said Wewak was chosen because cocoa production in East New Britain, formerly the largest producer in the country, had been decimated by the dreaded cocoa pod borer (CPB).
“Wewak, not because I come from there, but because East Sepik is now the leading cocoa producer in Papua New Guinea,” he said.
“East Sepik is also close to the mass market of Indonesia.
“I will start work with my team on the feasibility study into a new chocolate factory in Wewak.”