Different brands of chocolate and cocoa products have flooded the streets and markets of Accra ahead of this year’s Valentine’s Day, also known as Chocolate Day in Ghana.
Local and foreign chocolates, some presented in hampers with other items like red attire, panties, gift cards, bags, flowers, candies, teddy bears, and shoes are the talk of town.
Valentine’s Day, also known as Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is a day set aside within the month of February for lovers, family, and friends to show love among themselves and many anticipate spending quality time with their dear and loved ones by going on romantic dates, gifting them special tokens of love, asking out their potential love interest, and many more.
It originated as a Western Christian feast day honouring one or two early saints named Valentinus, and is recognised as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and romantic love in many regions around the world. It is characterised by the wearing of red clothes by celebrants.
Ghana, over the years, celebrate the day with entertaining events like movie and theatre shows.
In 2005, the country instituted the National Chocolate Day to coincide with the Valentine’s Day, to promote the consumption of Made-in-Ghana chocolate and cocoa products.
This is to position cocoa and the chocolate experience as a strong element of the Ghana tourism experience, promote domestic tourism and give a healthy orientation to the celebration of Valentine’s Day in Ghana.
Also, it aims at creating awareness for Ghanaians to appreciate the health benefits of chocolate, and to promote Ghana as the ‘home’ of chocolate.
The celebration is usually spearheaded by the Ghana Tourism Authority under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture in collaboration with Cocoa Processing Company, Ghana Cocoa Board and the Cocoa Producing Companies.
The inception of the National Chocolate Day has increased local patronage of chocolate and cocoa products, offered employment opportunities to numerous artisanal chocolatiers, cocoa-based products processing entrepreneurs, minimised social vices associated with the celebration of Valentine’s Day, amongst others.
In 2022, the event was made a full week’s celebration dubbed: “National Chocolate Week”, with various activities, including presentation of chocolate to institutions, family day out, poetry shows, health walk, and movie premiers among others.
The 2023 edition, on the theme: “Eat chocolate, stay healthy, grow Ghana”, was on Tuesday February 7 launched by the Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, with a call for the country to focus on processing more cocoa beans locally.
He said that was a sure way to increase the country’s chances of raking in substantially from the over USD 150 billion revenues accrued from the global chocolate confectionary industry annually.
He also called on all to rally around the cocoa consumption agenda and see it as a national duty.
The Information Minister noted that for the celebrations this year, there were new twists to offering the citizenry the opportunity of accessing the full benefits of consuming cocoa and its related products.
“The Chocolate City at the Tetteh Quarshie Interchange continues to provide one-stop shopping centres for all who would need chocolate confectioneries to give to their loved ones within the period of celebration.
“We have also received assurance from the processors and chocolatiers that they will make chocolate and other cocoa products available in all regions across the country for the benefits of the consuming public,” he said.
Despite these calls and efforts to making the celebration a memorable one, many Ghanaians have expressed concerns about the high cost of chocolate and cocoa products.
The price of Kings bite chocolate has shot up from GH¢12.00 to Gh¢15.00, big love – shaped chocolate from GH¢25.00 to GH¢35.00.
A Mini hamper consisting of small-sized teddy bear and kings bite chocolate is GH¢ 70.00.
Mrs Gershom Baah- Agyekum, a teacher, stated that the best gift he would consider giving to a loved one was chocolate and a rose flower, however, they have become very expensive on the market.
“I would rather give the money to my partner to prepare our favourite meal at home, get a few drinks and together with the children, we would enjoy it to some soothing music on the day. That is also a way of showing love,” Kofi Mensa, a trader, said.
Ms Wendy Quansah, a student, also said, “the chocolate week is a week to boost the consumption of Ghanaian chocolate, but my expectations for this year’s celebration is not something huge but just hoping to have a great week, may be, with a bar of chocolate.”
Programmes lined up for this year’s celebration include health walk, family day out, variety show at the Chocolate city, church visitations, time with school children, meeting moments across the regions, couples’ night out and donations.