JOHOR BAHRU, May 11 — The country’s export earnings contribution from cocoa and cocoa-based products, as well as cocoa grinding activities, is expected to decline by 18 per cent due to the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) to stem the spread of COVID-19.

“Today, Malaysia is the second-largest cocoa beans processing country in Asia and seventh in the world, accounting for 22 per cent of the market for cocoa-based products in the Asia-Oceania region. The value of chocolate exports last year stood at RM1.14 billion compared with RM1.03 billion in 2018, an increase of 10.7 per cent.

“However, it is expected that export earnings contribution from cocoa and cocoa-based products, as well as cocoa grinding activities, will decline by 18 per cent following the implementation of the Conditional MCO (CMCO),” according to the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities in a statement today.

The ministry said its minister Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali today undertook a working visit to take a closer look at the cocoa industry, specifically to monitor their level of compliance with the Conditional MCO.

One of the companies visited by Mohd Khairuddin is Guan Chong Cocoa Manufacturer Sdn Bhd at Pasir Gudang, which is the largest cocoa grinder in Malaysia and fourth in the world with a grinding capacity of 250,000 metric tonnes a year.

The company is also the leading supplier to chocolate and food and beverage (F&B) companies such as Nestlé, Mars, Hershey’s and Cadbury.

The minister also visited the HSRICH Chocolate which is a mentoring entrepreneur under the Chocolate Entrepreneur Development Program of the Malaysian Cocoa Board.

Throughout this year, a total of 224 chocolate entrepreneurs including 22 in Johor were guided through the program.

The one-day working visit also gave Mohd Khairuddin an opportunity to hear directly from industry players about problems and potentials related to the country’s cocoa and chocolate industry.

“The visit has enhanced the existing cooperation, especially between the ministry and industry to further develop the cocoa and chocolate industry,  especially in Johor.

“The ministry is also committed to strengthening the upstream and downstream cocoa industry through its crop integration program with other commodities as the new direction of the 12th Malaysia Plan,” it said. — Bernama