Although it is not a well-known cocoa producing country, the Philippines archipelago was the first country in Asia to have cacao introduced, with the fruit first brought into the Philippines 350 years ago in 1670 by Spanish colonizers during the Acapulco-Manila trade. Despite its lengthy history, cacao has still never been recognised in the list of the country’s priority crops.
The Philippines’ cacao industry witnessed its boom in the 1980s, when the government offered tax incentives for large-scale investments, and by the beginning of the 90s the Philippines was the world's fifteenth largest cacao producer with an output of 10,000 tonnes. However, this boom was short-lived, with the annual production rate of cacao rapidly declining by the late 90s due to unsuccessful land reform and a cacao pod borer outbreak.
Production started to increase again in the late 2000s and has continued to improve since due to many excellent private initiatives and cooperation within the cacao sector.
A breakthrough came in 2019 when a Filipino cacao farmer from Davao won the primary award at the Cocoa of Excellence Awards, securing the most prestigious international recognition for local cocoa beans. During the last edition in 2021, the Philippines secured two gold awards and one silver award, once again confirming the world-class quality of Philippine-grown cocoa beans.