MALAYSIA January 2020
 
Premium Chocolate Maker to tap new markets in Asia
 
Malaysia’s premium chocolate producer, Benns Ethicoa Chocolate Factory Sdn Bhd is now planning to tap new markets, particularly Japan and South Korea, while further strengthening its product and brand presence in its domestic markets Malaysia and Singapore in 2020.
Benns Ethicoa Director Jerome Penafort said the company is also looking to explore strong markets in Europe, the US and Australasia as consumers there appreciate premium chocolates. Jerome mentioned that Asia however is still the fastest growing market for chocolate products driven by countries like India, China and Japan.
He aded that local cacao production is not enough to catch up with the strong demand for chocolates. This has led Benns Ethicoa to source for cacao beans from other countries to produce premium chocolates. Benns Ethicoa Executive Director Wilfred Ng said Malaysia cacao production is on a downtrend due to local cacao farmers’ switching to better cash crops like palm oil and durian. As a result, it has to source its materials from other neighboring Asian countries like India, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam. Wilfred said, “Many people have the misconception that good chocolates come from European countries like Belgium. But in reality, no cacao is grown there... it is only grown in tropical countries. Asia has good quality of cacao beans for premium chocolates.”
In Malaysia, Benns Ethicoa has been the leader in bean-to-bar chocolate, producing a variety of cacao-based products from premium chocolates to beverages, cakes and snacks. The company has invested more than RM1 million (US$331,000) to upgrade its chocolate-making facility in Balakong, Selangor, and is looking at expanding its product offering in 2020.
Wilfred added that Benns Ethicoa aims to open its own trademark bean-to-bar cafe in Kuala Lumpur by the end of 2020. It is part of the company’s plan to expand product outreach while continuing to focus on marketing and consumer research and development.
It may also consider listing in the next 2 to 3 years once the company has established strong footing in Malaysia, as well as Southeast Asia.
 

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