Malaysian chocolate maker earns global awards

Merdeka Blend

Malaysian chocolate has caught the world’s attention thanks to Benns Ethicoa, who last week created history at two international competitions.

Executive director Wilfred Ng revealed Benns Ethicoa’s drinking chocolate made from cacao beans originating from Sungai Ruan in Pahang, won a bronze award in the International Chocolate Awards under the plain/origin dark drinking chocolate (made with milk) category.

Its limited edition ‘Merdeka Blend’ a 63 per cent dark chocolate blend from two Malaysian farms – Sungai Ruan and Panchor in Melaka – won three awards at Asia Pacific International Chocolate Awards.

It won gold for ‘Directly Traded’ and ‘Growing Country’ and a silver in the ‘Plain Dark Origin Bars’ category.

“The victories have really put Malaysian cacao or chocolates on the map,” said Ng, the son of company founder Ng Tuck Ming.

“Our drinking chocolate beat entries from Europe, the Americas and Africa.”

Benns Ethicoa’s chocolate drink can be enjoyed hot or cold.

“The Merdeka Blend bar combines two high-quality cacao beans from two of the best cacao farms in Malaysia.

“No Malaysian bean-to-bar company has ever won an international award. It has inspired us to do more research and development to come out with more products.”

Ng said Benns Ethicoa – a wordplay on ‘ethics’ and ‘cocoa’ – decided on a 63 per cent dark chocolate blend as Malaysia celebrated its 63rd independence this year.

“We chose cacao beans from Sungai Ruan and Panchor not only because of its fine flavours but also in recognition of their effort in cultivating high-quality cacao beans,” explained Ng.

“Like us, these farms also believe in sustainable farming.

“The wins will help put our brand under the spotlight and also showcase to the world that Malaysian indeed has good cacao beans.”

He added the Merdeka Blend has been a success with nearly 70 per cent sold.

Ng also revealed the company’s online sales have steadily increased during the Movement Control Order, while overseas orders are still coming in.

“The awards will only help us as now more countries and businesses are aware of Benns Ethicoa.

“We need to increase our marketing to capitalise on these results,” said Ng, who revealed the company is collaborating with a local designer for its Christmas and Chinese New Year hampers.

“We are doing something for the coming celebrations. It’s a hamper of a variety of chocolates which comes in a nice packaging by a local designer.”

Separately, he confirmed plans to open a cafe-cum-factory at the Kuala Lumpur Eco-Park has been delayed by a year and may only open in 2022.

Its cafe in Cheras, where you can also go for a tour of its chocolate factory, is still operational.