Vanuatu’s Aelan Chocolate wins NZ awards and world placing for cocoa

Vanuatu’s fledgling Aelan Chocolate makers has had a successful year winning recognition at the inaugural New Zealand Chocolate Awards 2017.

The top award also adds to their winning entries into the World Cocoa of Excellence competition in France, where two of their four entries were placed in the top 50 cocoa producers – in the World!

It is a major achievement for ACTIV Association who have had a very busy year, entering competitions and at the same time rebranding and repackaging their chocolate.

At the New Zealand Chocolate Awards, Aelan Chocolate was awarded three silver medals for its Dark Chocolate Single Origin from Vanuatu Malo, Dark Chocolate Single Origin from Vanuatu, Malekula and Dark Chocolate Single Origin from Vanuatu, Santo and bronze for Epi’s Dark Chocolate Single Origin.

It is high achievement for the relatively new chocolate maker who began in 2015, in a factory based within the ACTIV Association Centre, a 15-minute drive from Port Vila’s CBD in Vanuatu.

ACTIV Association’s Sandrine Wallez

The team at Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) New Zealand was thrilled when the announcement came via email from Aelan Chocolate’s Sandrine Wallez, who was ecstatic with the awards.

“Aelan Chocolate got an award!!” she exclaimed.  “A very good day for us indeed!!!”

Aelan Chocolate was also buoyed by the good news of its cocoa placing in the Top 50 at the ‘Cocoa of Excellence’ Programme and going into the Salon du Chocolat competition in Paris.  Aelan has also secured a new partnership with Oxfam Trading Australia who will distribute Aelan’s Chocolate originating from Malo, Malekula and Epi islands of the Vanuatu archipelago.

It was sweet reward for the company’s overall efforts to promote Vanuatu chocolate and learn more about the international chocolate market.

In addition, Ms Wallez told Pacific Periscope she and the two top cocoa producers would travel to Paris to attend the International Cocoa Awards in October.

ACTIV Association’s Aelan Chocolates were identified as a potential exporter in the PTI NZ Path to Market workshop in Vanuatu last year. As a result, Ms Wallez and Aelan Chocolates were invited to be part of the PTI New Zealand Pacific Path to Market delegation to Auckland’s Pasifika Festival in March.  They made a great impression, receiving good feedback from festival goers on the chocolate and selling all their handicrafts to the Auckland Museum.

Aelan Chocolates also entered the International Chocolate Awards for the Americas and Asia Pacific for first time at the time of the Pasifika Festival. Chocolate samples from Vanuatu’s outer islands of Santo, Malekula, Epi and Malo were sent to the United States based competition.

“We wanted to attend such a competition to see what our chocolate is compared to other manufacturers and to start to make the Vanuatu chocolate recognised at the international level,” Ms Wallez said.

“We really want to assist the producers to understand the quality and give them a chance to access a better market in the chocolate industry,” she said.

Roll forward to the New Zealand Chocolate Awards in September, where a similar sentiment applied. Aelan Chocolate entered against 120 chocolate products from 36 New Zealand and International chocolate producers. With a judging panel of 18 chocolatiers, food writers and celebrity guests who blind tasted the samples.

Aelan Chocolates was up against some of New Zealand’s established chocolate makers whose entries included flavour combos of Pohutukawa honey and rosemary, ginger and sesame, rose and vanilla and quince and gingerbread.

Moli from Malo and Mabong from Malekula

Cocoa samples from Santo, Epi, Malo and Malekula producers were sent to the cocoa of excellence programme in France. (See accompanying story)

The award winners were announced on September 15 and showcased at the Chocolate and Coffee Show held on September 23 and 24 at The Cloud in Auckland, where PTI New Zealand was also present, showcasing other Pacific Island chocolate and coffee exhibitors, including Vanuatu’s Tanna Coffee; Tonga’s Tupu’anga Coffee; Samoa’s kokoloa, Solomons Gold from the Solomon Islands and Paradise Foods from Papua New Guinea.

It is good news for Vanuatu whose 11,000 inhabitants on the small outer island of Ambae were all evacuated at the end of September for fear of a major volcanic eruption.

For more information, please contact Ian Furlong, PTI Trade Development Manager on


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