ORMOC CITY – This city’s Alto Peak Chocolates continues to innovate its products and has tapped local handicrafts for its packaging and marketing requirements.

Accordingly, Alto Peak Chocolates, a local producer of dark chocolate bars and artisanal chocolates, was one of a few firms in Ormoc City that availed of the Department of Science and Technology’s Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (DOST-SETUP) assistance; and so was paid a visit by DOST Leyte personnel led by its Provincial Science and Technology Director, Dr. John Glenn Ocaña, on Wednesday, August 17, 2022.

DOST-SETUP, meanwhile, is a nationwide strategy encouraging and assisting SMEs to adopt technology innovations to improve their operations and, thus, boost their productivity and competitiveness.

Accordingly, the DOST Leyte visiting team discovered that the owners of Alto Peak Chocolates, couple Noel and Celeste Barquera, are continuously innovating and developing new products and improving their main processing facility.

Further, in order to achieve an organic and artistic look, Barquera tapped a women’s group from Baybay City, Leyte to weave natural materials into bags and local artists to produce their customized packaging material. The said women weavers, on the one hand, were assisted by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and was trained on proper dyeing using both synthetic and natural dyes by DOST through the Philippine Textile Research Institute (DOST-PTRI).

On the other hand, Alto Peak Chocolates’ “baterol”, or wooden whisk, which is used in boiling dark chocolate “tablea”, was sourced out from the Leyte Regional Prison, as, again, assisted by DOST Leyte in upgrading the tools and devices used in making the said handicraft.

Originally, Alto Peak’s product lines included unsweetened tablea, dark chocolate bars of various chocolate percentage concentration, dark chocolate tidbits, milk chocolate bars, and the handmade chocolate bonbons in various ganaches, from imported wines to tropical fruits available in Leyte.

Currently, Alto Peak formulated a cold ready-to-drink chocolate beverage and opened a cafe that also features local delicacies with the use of their chocolates in one way or another.

To recall, the “Alto Peak” in the company name is derived from the location of Alto Peak Chocolates’ cacao plantation in Brgy. Cabintan, Ormoc City, which barangay is located at the foot of Mt. Alto Peak, also known as Mt. Aminduen, the highest mountain in Eastern Visayas. In 2021, the firm became one of the growing number of SMEs in Leyte that availed of DOST’s SETUP. By Gwen Maurillo (EV Mail August 15-21, 2022 issue)