By Nanai Taofiga Laveitiga Tuiletufuga
(www.savalinews.com) Samoa’s first chocolate maker is on the comeback eyeing the export market with the launch of a new line of chocolates.
A little older and a lot wiser, Wilex Samoa’s latest creation is the Koko Loa line of chocolate delights. Koko Loa range is made from carefully hand-picked premium & fermented cocoa beans.
Infused with the tropical flavours that Samoa is world famous for, it will compete on a global stage, appearing shoulder to shoulder with some of the world’s best chocolate and cocoa brands.
The Koko Loa current range consists of Samoan Origin 72%, Fruit and Nut; and Coconut Milk Chocolate; and its Premium and Pacific brand Cocoa Powders.
But for Tagaloa Eddie Wilson and his wife Carol, Wilex Samoas’ brainchild- are not sitting on their laurels as always.
They have learned a lot of valuable lessons over the years with their business history littered with unfortunate mishaps not from their own doing.
It started from that disastrous fire that gutted their original Wilex Samoa location at Moataa 13 years ago.
And most recently the menacing Cyclone Evan which wiped out their operations at Lelata just as Wilex Samoa was slowly getting back on its feet.
But the Wilsons have prevailed because no natural disaster or a hideous flaming inferno could detain their will power.
Backed with over 30 years experience, the Wilsons; who are our first chocolate producer using original Samoan cocoa is confronted with the same aging dilemma; not enough raw cocoa beans to sustain demand.
But as always, never rule out Tagaloa’s ingenuity which has kept Wilex Samoa’s heart pumping.
He is taking the bull by the horns.
“Our Koko land line is concentrating on the local front before heading overseas on a full scale because there is not enough cocoa to meet local and export demands,” says Tagaloa.
“It’s always been a problem.
“Despite the challenges Koko Loa has already been successfully introduced into New Caledonia.
“And we will continue to explore and secure new export markets for the Koko Loa brand depending on availability of raw supplies.”
And to tackle the supply hick-up, Tagaloa has recruited help.
“We are working together with the two cocoa farmer associations in Upolu and I have just recently joined the farmer’s association in Savai’i and we are looking at also propagating a 3,000 acre plantation. 3,000 acres, [where] we’re going to start growing cocoa and kava predominantly,” said Tagaloa.
“Data shows that we don’t have the capacity to reach 200 tonnes a year needed for trade and exports.
“And for Wilex to sustain its export demands through its added value products, we need at least 150 tonnes a year.
“From experience, this is the biggest downfall of the cocoa industry which has resulted in not enough primary cocoa for processing.
Established in 1986 Wilex Samoa is one of the biggest agro-processing and manufacturing companies in the country.
It currently exports is Koko Samoa products to Japan and South Korea.
It also has a corrugated boxing plant at Lelata supplying the canneries in American Samoa.