Tain l'Hermitage, France -Senator Cynthia Villar, Chair of the Senate Committees on Agriculture and Food; Environment and Natural Resources; and Agrarian Reform, visited the headquarters of French chocolate manufacturer Valrhona in Tain l'Hermitage, France.
Senator Villar was welcomed by Ms. Veronique Huchede, Valrhona Purchasing Manager; Mr. Matthier Drobniak, Communication and Brand Content Manager; and Mr. Benjamin Figarede, Cocoa Partnerships.
During the visit, Mr. Drobniak gave Senator Villar a tour of Valrhona's chocolate factory showing the entire process of transforming cacao from fermenting to roasting to conching all way to the finished product.
Senator Villar was also given a tour of the Cite du Chocolat, a museum built by Valrhona showcasing cacao's sensorial qualities, and of Ecole Valrhona, a school dedicated to training professional and gourmet pastry chefs on how to use Valrhona products.
At the end of the visit, Senator Villar invited the Valrhona officials to visit the Philippines and to taste and see the country's cacao.
"Cacao and coffee are strategic crops for us because these could be used for intercropping with coconuts. The Philippines has 3.5 million coconut farmers who earn only US$ 1 a day, so this could provide a big boost to their income," Senator Villar mentioned.
Valrhona is the most prestigious chocolate manufacturer in France with a selective sourcing policy. It currently sources cacao from only eighteen countries and is actively looking for other possible sources of cacao for its production of premium, gourmet chocolate. The Philippines hopes to be one of the future sources of Valrhona chocolate.
Senator Villar is part of a Philippine parliamentary delegation currently on mission to France. The trip to Valrhona is part of the Senator's advocacies on cacao as the primary sponsor of Senate Bill No. 320 establishing a national program for the cacao industry.
Source: Senate of the Philippines