Auro Chocolate On Winning Big At the International Chocolate Awards 2020
It's another victory for the #LoveLocal cause: Auro Chocolate, a proudly Filipino company based in Laguna, has gained international acclaim for their delicious bean-to-bar chocolates. Yes, this is just as exciting as it sounds, considering the current underrepresentation of our country in a handful of culinary circles. Mark Ocampo, managing director of the Auro brand, says: "The Philippines has had cacao for over 300 years. Not to mention, we are the first country in Asia to grow cacao. We also have a rich tradition of consuming chocolate. Yet, only within the past ten years have we seen quality chocolate brands come up."
Now, with the growing popularity of Mindanao cacao beans, people have come to realise something: our country has so much to offer.
"It's about time we’re able to share this with the rest of the world," Mark says, speaking on the wonderful produce that our very own lands have yielded us. Auro, while is based in Laguna, sources beans from Mindanao farming partners. And it's exactly those beans that have had such an impact here and abroad. The International Chocolate Awards, which was held in Taiwan, is one of the most prestigious in the chocolate industry and welcomes entries from all over the world. "To our surprise, not only did we win five gold awards, we [also] won the 'best in competition and overall winner'," Mark says. "This award is only given to one brand per category, which we won for our milk chocolate." Other awards include golds for: Plain/Origin Milk Chocolate Bars, Chocolate Maker, Growing Country, and Direct Traded (chocolate).
Yet, Mark says: "There's still so much more we can do to continuously improve and evolve — the learning never stops. With each competition, we’re able to see the innovations of different brands from around the world that truly inspire us to keep pushing the limits. [But] we're on the right track, [knowing] that we’re able to compete on the world stage with older brands we look up to, despite being only 3 years old."
In September of 2020, Auro had also won seven recognitions at the Great Taste Awards in the UK. "It’s really interesting to see the difference in taste depending on where judging takes place," Mark observes. "I would say with each competition, you must know your audience and put your best foot forward. Not everything will work in certain markets so you have to be strategic."
Auro and our Mindanaoan farmers continue to gain traction and popularity both here and abroad. Locally, their collaborations are booming. They have upcoming projects with Pinkberry, Lesley Mobo, and Solaire to be revealed later in the month. Meanwhile, they've also launched gourmet ice cream flavours in partnership with Hapag and The Lost Bread. Traditionally Filipino flavours such as Champorado, Espasol, and Banana Cue, have been incorporated into delicious pints of creamy goodness for everyone to enjoy. Serenitea also has their claim on the Auro flavour, with a line of chocolate tea bars.
As a social enterprise, these projects come as a huge help to create more self-sustaining and long-lasting solutions for their farming partners down south. And while the pandemic has taken its toll on them (as it has with everyone else), Auro remains optimistic for its upcoming ventures which include a new location in Tokyo, and a retail concept in Bahrain.