First ‘Bougainville Bar’ chocolate goes on sale in NZ, as quality of Papua New Guinea cocoa recognised


A new ‘Bougainville Bar’ has gone on sale in New Zealand this month, marking an increased awareness by international chocolate makers of Papua New Guinea’s high quality cocoa. As Business Advantage PNG discovers, the project was made possible through a very modern form of capital raising: crowdfunding.


Bougainville cocoa farmer, James Rutuna (right) with the Wellington Chocolate factory’s Gabe Davidson & Rochelle Harrison.

A year in the planning, the purchase of one tonne of high-grade cocoa from the island of Bougainville marks the start of what the Wellington Chocolate Factory expects to be a long–term relationship.

Co-founder of the Wellington Chocolate Factory (WCF), Rochelle Harrison, told Business Advantage PNG that most of this first batch of the ‘Bougainville Bar’ has already been presold to crowdsourcing donors and plans are underway bring more cocoa from Bougainville next year.

The WCF purchased the cacao in PNG from local farmer James Rutana, who has studied and worked in the cocoa industry in Jamaica, Ghana and New York.

Rutuna has been growing and developing cocoa beans since 1958. After the Bougainville Conflict (1988–1998), he rebuilt the growing and processing of Bougainville cocoa, and now runs a program to share his knowledge and planting materials with other farmers in the region.


BougBar wrapper1The WCF project was funded by about 450 donors who contributed more than NZ$37,000 (K73,000) through crowdfunding website Kickstarter.

The beans were then brought to Wellington on a three-month, 4,329 kilometres voyage on a traditional Fijian sailing craft to be turned into artisan chocolate.

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Half the funds raised through crowd-funding paid for the voyage, with the rest used to buy quality cocoa bean drying equipment for the Bougainville farmers, ‘so beans with no smoke-taint could be produced’.

With some 70% of the world’s chocolate coming from a robust variety in West Africa, Bougainville cocoa bean is quite unique, says Harrison.

‘We use the old way of making chocolate,’ she said. ‘We stone grind the bean and hand sort, before roasting, cracking, winnowing, conching and tempering the bean. It’s a process dating back to the 18th century.

‘We use single-source beans for each of our products.

‘Traditional cocoa-producing countries were struggling to meet demand and although 18% of cocoa bean supplies came from the Pacific countries such as PNG, only 10% was being sold to the premium market.’

‘The Bougainville chocolate is one of the first from the Pacific, alongside Samoa, and it has a fine, fruity taste.’

WCF currently exports its range to overseas companies, and has over 100 stockists in New Zealand. Harrison says she also has ‘high hopes’ of setting up a chocolate factory on Bougainville itself, within the next five-to-10 years.

That one tonne of high quality Bougainville’s cocoa bean will produce some 12,000 bars of chocolate. Some of the bars will be sent to other gourmet chocolate producers throughout the world, to encourage interest in the Bougainville beans.

Global market

Solomons Gold

Solomons Gold

A study carried out by Margaret Ilala of Organic Fair Trade under the Pacific Agribusiness Research & Development Initiative (PARDI) found that traditional cocoa producing countries were struggling to meet demand and although 18% of cocoa bean supplies came from the Pacific countries such as PNG, only 10% was being sold to the premium market.

Returns from cocoa are much greater compared to copra, coffee and other cash crops, she reported.

Various Pacific Islands cocoa producers are taking advantage of the market opportunities, and so are artisan producers, like the WCF.

The Western Australian chocolatier, Bahen & Co, sources its cacao from Morobe Province.

Whittaker’s, New Zealand’s biggest chocolate manufacturing company, has a new single origin Samoan bar–Cacao Extra Dark.

In Fiji, Tomo and Harumi’s Adi Chocolates have created an international branded chocolate called Fijiana Cacao, aiming it squarely at the premium end of the market.

Meanwhile, Solomon’s Gold manufacturer, Glen Yeatman, has a processing plant for the Solomon Islands grown cocoa beans in Tauranga, NZ, producing the single origin Solomons Gold Chocolate bar.


  1. Fantastic to see this sort of Progress for PNG and the people that have made it happen need to be commended.

  2. I think thats a good start for our own product to be marketd and produce in NZ and beyond.can i sell my tourism products too?

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