One Filipino-made chocolate brand is going to Japan — and straight to Shibuya, one of the main shopping districts in the metropolitan city, at that.
Auro Chocolate, which uses cacao raised in Davao farms, will open its own store in Frenity House, a building located in the famed, highly foot-trafficked district. The store will open on Oct. 7 this year.
Founded by Mark Ocampo and Kelly Go, Auro is known as one of the leading chocolate brands in the country. Proof: the two bronze medals they won in May at the 2018 Academy of Chocolate International Awards.
In a phone interview with Coconuts Manila, Ocampo explained that they were discovered by their exclusive Japanese distributor, Kotowari, when the father of the company’s founder Manobu Sato went to the Philippines.
“They discovered us through social media. He bought all these chocolates from the Philippines and brought them to Japan. They tried all the chocolates they had and chose us,” Ocampo said.
Kotowari will manage the Auro store, which Ocampo estimates to be around 20 – 30 square meters in size. Chocolates sold there would more expensive than the ones sold in the Philippines, though pricing details for the Japanese market have not yet been made official.
Aside from the Shibuya store, Auro is also planning to work with hotels and restaurants in Japan by creating products specifically made for them.
According to Ocampo, they were chosen also because they directly work with Davao-based farmers in the growing of the cacao that Auro uses. This is why they describe themselves as a “bean to bar” chocolate brand.
“We work with 3,000 farmers and [our cacao] covers 2,000 hectares of land,” said Ocampo. “We also teach them business administration and we provide technical assistance on how they could improve the quality of their cacao.”
He said this helped improve the farmers’ lives. “They paid off their loans. Some of these farmers are now able to buy laptops for their children and provide for their education,” he said.
The opening of their Tokyo store proves that chocolate making in the Philippines has come a long way.
Ocampo explained that the Philippines is actually an ideal place to grow cacao and, of course, to make chocolates.
He said Filipinos’ appreciation for foreign brands hampered the creation of local chocolate for many years. Today, things seem to be improving.
“Now Filipinos are looking back into their roots and traditions,” he said.
Victory does taste sweet.