TEGUCIGALPA – The Honduran Maribel Lieberman, who is known in New York for her factory that makes MarieBelle handcrafted chocolates, and for her shops and products in other markets in Europe and Asia, is currently promoting cacao production in her own country through a Japanese television channel.
“I came to Honduras with a crew from Nippon Television, which is shooting a film of my activities and about the world of cacao,” Lieberman told EFE Saturday in Tegucigalpa before returning to New York, where she has lived and achieved success over the past 15 years.
She added that the Japanese TV channel specifically wanted to meet the Honduran families dedicated to producing the cacao that she buys to make her MarieBelle chocolates.
The Japanese TV show about Lieberman started filming in New York, from where she and the crew flew to Honduras and met up with dozens of cacao-producing women in the provinces of Copan and Santa Barbara in the west, and Atlantida on the Caribbean, she said.
She added that the cacao she buys through the Honduran Foundation for Agricultural Research (FHIA) is all produced by Honduran women cultivating small plots of land.
The FHIA controls the quality of Honduran cacao based on the specific characteristics required by Lieberman, who for years imported the seeds from other countries.
“Now I’m producing chocolates with cacao cultivated in my own country, which also helps create jobs for women here,” Lieberman said.
In 2016, Lieberman went to Jutiapa, Atlantida province, with a group of Japanese entrepreneurs who wanted to see where the cacao was grown that she uses for the chocolates she makes in New York and which are now marketed in Japan.
The businesswoman said that when she first met with cacao producers in Jutiapa for a day of training two years ago, 25 women took part, while on this second occasion there were 45, which she described as “very exciting because they want to get ahead and are doing a lot of things well.”
“I love to encourage the cacao producers in my country – they feel very motivated to build their businesses as much as possible,” she said.
In 2016, Lieberman purchased at least 40 tons of Honduran cacao to make her popular chocolates, and plans to buy even more in the future.
Honduras also exports cacao to other chocolate makers in countries like Denmark, the Netherlands, the UK and Switzerland.
Lieberman recalled that her first chocolate store in Japan opened in 2013 under the name Cacao Market by MarieBelle.
Among clients of Lieberman’s two New York chocolate stores are US ex-President Bill Clinton and wife Hillary, Whoopi Goldberg, Harrison Ford, Susan Sarandon, Meg Ryan, Jill Hennessy, David Schwimmer, Ricky Martin, Oprah Winfrey and Daniela Pastova.