Samoa’s Koko Loa range of chocolates comes from the family business house of Wilex Samoa. Its name is inspired by Tagaloa, the mythical creator of the universe and the heavens in Samoan legend. “Koko Loa is heaven-sent with Alofa (love) from Samoa,” says Eddie Wilson, Wilex Samoa’s founder and CEO.
Wilex will display its Koko Loa range at the Auckland Food Show this week with a booth at the Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) New Zealand hosted Pacific Hub stand, which will feature nine food and beverage exporters from the Pacific Islands region.
Wilex has been an established business in agri-processing and exports since 1985 and has won several export awards. It launched its Koko Loa chocolate range in November 2016.
However, this is not the first time that it made chocolates. Following a pre-trial order of Samoan made chocolates to New Zealand in May 2003, the Wilex factory was unfortunately burned to the ground in an electrical fire the very next day after that first export. Later attempts were delayed by other natural disasters such as flooding caused by the 2012 Cyclone Evan.
“Koko Loa is a representation of resilience in the face of many adversities, and the strength it takes for a family and community to build and rebuild,” says Grace Wilson, who will represent the company at the Auckland Food Show this week.
“Wilex Samoa has since gone back to its roots in agricultural processing and has begun again to focus on chocolate making from Samoan cocoa beans as well as other export products,”
Koko Loa is a premium chocolate brand with three main flavours representative of the flavours of the Samoan Islands: 72% Dark Chocolate, Fruit & Nut Milk Chocolate (mango, papaya and tree nuts), as well as Coconut in Milk Chocolate. The chocolate and cocoa products are made from carefully hand-picked premium and fermented cocoa beans, infused with the tropical flavours that Samoa is world famous for, Ms Wilson told Pacific Periscope.
This is the first time that Wilex will be introducing Koko Loa to the New Zealand market. The company is in the process of developing a new drinking chocolate product and may taste test it at the Auckland Food Show, Ms Wilson said.
Besides chocolates and cocoa, Wilex also exports other agricultural and food products like fragranced coconut oils, kava powder and traditional koko Samoa (cocoa balls).
“As a small bean to bar chocolate manufacturer, development in terms of staff training and educating Samoan cocoa farmers in the expectations and requirements for chocolate making cocoa, Wilex Samoa hopes to attain the level it once had as a lead exporter and agricultural processing leader. We are a family owned business that is proud to share the vast and unique potential our cocoa industry has to offer,” Ms Wilson said.
Wilex is a participant in the Pacific Trade Invest NZ Pacific Path to Market programme. Path to Market is designed to help exporters from the Pacific Islands gain a better understanding of the New Zealand market. It is an export capability programme combining a range of export facilitation services to help export ready and export capable businesses to enter New Zealand.
The programme follows a series of methodical steps to get into the New Zealand market, starting with the workshops followed by an exploratory trade mission to New Zealand to apply their learnings, trial their products and packaging and introduce exporters to potential buyers.