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First ever Australian Cocoa Industry Meet
August 6, 2015
JOINT MEDIA RELEASE
Queensland Cocoa Industry Development Association Inc
Australian Cocoa Council Inc
The first ever gathering of the Australian commercial cocoa industry took place in Cairns recently.
A Cocoa Industry Research & Development Workshop hosted by the Federal Government’s Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) brought together the key stakeholders in Australia’s newest emerging industry including Australia’s cocoa growing pioneers, cocoa growers, cocoa processors, Queensland Cocoa Industry Development Association Inc (QCIDA), Australian Cocoa Council Inc (ACC), the Queensland Government, James Cook University, and several chocolate manufacturers.
The workshop identified key priorities for the expansion and improvement of Australia’s commercial cocoa growing and processing industry, and focussed on clonal selection, plantation husbandry, quality control, processing technologies and industry collaboration.
RIRDC Senior Program Manager, Plant Industries, Dr John de Majnik said, “The workshop is a key milestone for the Australian cocoa industry.” He said, “RIRDC supports emerging industries which can boost Australian farmers profitable options on farm and for regions, and cocoa is one such option for far north Queensland.”
QCIDA spokesperson Tim Davies said, “This is historically significant for Australia since very few first world countries enjoy the right climatic conditions for growing cocoa. Known globally for its pioneering spirit, Australia’s foray into commercial cocoa growing and processing has already attracted attention from around the world.” Davies said, “Australia’s access to world leading resources across research, education and technology meant the Australian Cocoa Industry could quickly emerge as a world leader in cocoa technology and innovation.”
ACC Chairman Chris Jahnke said, “By adopting the highest standards of integrity this emerging industry has the opportunity to establish Australian Origin Chocolate as a premium product that can compete with the best in the world.”
Commercial cocoa growing in Australia was first explored by NACDA (Northern Australia Cocoa Development Alliance) about 15 years ago. NACDA was an alliance between the Australian Federal Government, the Queensland Government’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the State Governments of Western Australia and Northern Territory, and Cadbury Schweppes. The aim was to see whether cocoa growing was possible in Australia. As cocoa only grows up to ~18 degrees either side of the equator, several cocoa plantations were trialled across the far north of Australia. The Far North Queensland plantation near Port Douglas turned out to produce the best yields. The feasibility study concluded that whilst conditions for cocoa growing in Far North Queensland were ideal, the high cost of labour and services in Australia challenged the traditional cocoa industry commercial model used globally. The report from the trial is available for download here.
The first commercially produced Australian grown chocolate was launched in November 2011 and has been exported in small volumes to UK, Belgium and China.
There are presently around 25 hectares of commercial cocoa plantations in Queensland scattered between Cow Bay in the north and Tully in the south.