India emerges as fastest growing market for chocolate

09 November 2012 - 13:35 By AFP Relaxnews

Consumers in India are increasingly developing a sweet tooth for the Western confectionery chocolate, with sales doubling in the span of three short years to make India the fastest growing market for chocolate in the world.

That’s according to a new report by market research group Mintel, which highlighted the fact that sales of chocolate grew from $418 million in 2008 to $857 million in 2011.

In th lead-up to the Hindu holiday Diwali, when the country fetes the festival of lights for five days with lavish banquets and feasts that include sweets and desserts, chocolate is likewise becoming increasingly popular as a seasonal gift, as many Indian consumers consider boxed chocolates a luxurious, more hygienic offering with a longer shelf life compared to traditional Indian desserts, the report adds.

This year, Diwali starts November 13.

Chocolate is also being pitched as a premium, luxury item in India: the ‘premiumization’ claim, for instance, has seen a 100 percent growth over the last three years, from 4 percent of launches in 2008 to 6 percent in 2011.

And while per capita consumption of chocolate remains low in India compared to other countries at 70 grams in 2011, that just means the potential for growth is high in this booming economy where consumers have disposable income to spend, points out Mintel.

By comparison, in Germany the average per capita consumption of chocolate is 8 kg a head, while the Brits and French tuck into 6 kg per capita a year.

Mature chocolates facing slow meltdowns

Meanwhile, growth in more mature chocolate markets across Europe is experiencing a slowdown.

In Germany, volume consumption declined from 770,000 tonnes in 2008 to 700,000 tonnes in 2011, while the same pattern was observed in the UK, where consumption fell from 362,000 tonnes from 2008 to 350,000 last year.

In contrast, Italy posted modest growth, with consumption increasing to 104,000 tonnes in 2011 from 98,000 tonnes in 2008.

But it’s not just the Western confectionery that’s influencing Indian consumers -- it also works the other way around.

India’s culinary and cultural influence is also spilling over into the chocolate world, with innovative and daring chocolatiers such as Cacobean infusing pralines and bonbons with punchy spices like cumin, cardamom, clove and mace.

Another boutique in the UK, Devnaa, also creates Indian-inspired chocolates laced with flavors such as coconut and cardamom, saffron, cinnamon and ginger packaged in tiffin boxes.