As part of Cacao’s commitment to the use of environmentally friendly ingredients, almost all our sugar is purchased from the Masarang Foundation. Masarang is a non-profit conservation foundation that works to protect and restore threatened Indonesian rainforests through the production of environmentally friendly palm sugar, made from the sap of the Arenga Sugar Palm. The Foundation also supports the Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Centre.
To be clear, palm sugar has no connection to the infamously destructive palm oil industry. In fact, palm sugar production has the opposite effect on the environment, as the sugar palm’s successful growth requires a healthy plant community. Masarang’s sugar production is therefore helping to re-forest degraded areas of land. Within 5 years of sugar palms being planted there, once barren wastelands have been restored to thriving ecosystems.
Just a few years after being planted, a sugar palm is ready to be harvested. By making deep enough cuts in the stem, farmers can harvest 20-30 litres of sap from a single tree. The sap is then heated to thicken it, after which it is left to crystallise. In the process, no chemicals or additives are added. Furthermore unlike most palm sugar suppliers, which burn felled trees to heat the sap, Masarang uses waste energy from a geothermal power plant. This is estimated to save around 200,000 trees per year.
Masarang works with local communities to ensure that they receive a share of the profits from sugar production. As sugar palms can produce sap for years, this provides the communities with an incentive to protect the rainforest in the long term.
Masarang palm sugar has EU and FDA organic certifications and the soil surrounding all trees that provide the palm sugar is checked for the presence of chemicals by Control Union. In addition, in November 2017 the Masarang sugar factory received the prestigious biannual Parama Karya award as the best medium sized social enterprise in Indonesia.
To learn more about Masarang’s conservation activities, both in Indonesia and Hong Kong, visit their website at: http://masarang.hk/about/