Progressive Grocer (India) - - Chocolate -

While the global choco­late con­fec­tionery mar­ket posts slow growth, new re­search from global mar­ket in­tel­li­gence agency Min­tel re­veals that In­dia is de­fy­ing the odds. In­deed, In­dia is now one of the world’s fastest grow­ing choco­late con­fec­tionery mar­kets.

Sales of choco­late con­fec­tionery in re­tail mar­kets grew by 13% be­tween 2015 and 2016 in In­dia, fol­lowed by Poland which saw sales growth of 2%. In com­par­i­son to the rest of the world, Poland and In­dia were the only two mar­kets to see sales of choco­late grow in 2016, with sales in the United States (US), United King­dom (UK), Ger­many and France flat over this pe­riod, while sales fell in Rus­sia (-2%), Brazil (-6%), and China (-6%).

Data from Min­tel also re­veals that In­dia’s choco­late con­fec­tionery mar­ket has had a strong CAGR (com­pound an­nual growth rate) of 19.9%, in re­tail mar­ket value, be­tween 2011 and 2015, and is ex­pected to grow at a CAGR of 20.6% from 2016 to 2020.

When it comes to choco­late con­fec­tionery con­sump­tion (volume sales), it seems In­dia is a na­tion of choco­late lovers. Min­tel re­search re­veals that In­dia con­sumed 228 thou­sand tonnes worth of choco­late in 2016. Other mar­kets that have con­sumed in excess of 200,000 tonnes of choco­late last year in­clude France (251 thou­sand tonnes), Brazil (236 thou­sand tonnes), and China (202 thou­sand tonnes). Mean­while, Aus­tralia and In­done­sia con­sumed 95 thou­sand tonnes and 94 thou­sand tonnes worth of choco­late in 2016 (re­spec­tively). The US and the UK, on the other hand, con­sumed 1.3 mil­lion tonnes and 555 thou­sand tonnes of choco­late (re­spec­tively).

Mar­cia Mo­gelon­sky, Di­rec­tor of In­sight, Min­tel Food and Drink, says: “Choco­late con­fec­tionery had an un­even year in 2016. Volume sales in de­vel­oped mar­kets re­mained flat, while the pic­ture was a bit brighter in emerg­ing mar­kets, like In­dia, where sales gen­er­ally fared bet­ter. Our re­search in­di­cates that con­sumers in In­dia be­lieve choco­late to be ben­e­fi­cial and con­ve­nient – seem­ingly the key rea­sons be­hind the growth of the coun­try’s choco­late con­fec­tionery mar­ket both in value and volume.”

In­deed, ac­cord­ing to a con­sumer study by Min­tel, 42% of In­dian con­sumers have eaten sweet or sug­ary snacks (other than bis­cuits) like choco­lates and cakes be­tween April and June 2016, ris­ing to 53% of con­sumers aged 18 to 24. On the ben­e­fits of choco­lates, Min­tel re­search re­veals over two in five In­dian con­sumers (44%) find sweet or sug­ary snacks like choco­lates and cakes to be healthy, while over one in three (35%) In­di­ans be­lieve these snacks pro­vide them with en­ergy.

Mean­while, as many as one in two (49%) In­dian con­sumers as­so­ci­ate sweet or sug­ary snacks like

choco­lates with con­ve­nience. Data from Min­tel also re­veals 43% of In­di­ans con­sume sweet or sug­ary snacks like choco­late and cake be­tween lunch and din­ner, with over half (53%) of In­dian con­sumers re­port­ing that they tend to snack in be­tween meals be­cause they get hun­gry.

Over­all, global launch ac­tiv­ity in the con­fec­tionery cat­e­gory was some­what re­strained in 2016. The num­ber of choco­late con­fec­tionery launches glob­ally grew by just 3% be­tween 2015 and 2016, with sea­sonal choco­late launches ac­count­ing for one quar­ter (25%) of global choco­late new prod­uct launches. This was the big­gest area of choco­late new prod­uct de­vel­op­ment (NPD) in 2016, ac­cord­ing to Min­tel Global New Prod­ucts Data­base (GNPD).

“Our re­search shows that sea­sonal choco­late tops all choco­late new prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, a tes­ta­ment to the pop­u­lar­ity of sea­sonal treats among con­sumers across the globe. This re­flects the fact that these prod­ucts are typ­i­cally bought to help cel­e­brate hol­i­days or spe­cial oc­ca­sions. With this in mind, sea­sonal choco­late is some­what im­mune to re­ces­sion­ary pres­sures as these prod­ucts are bought on an oc­ca­sional ba­sis.”

Given the fact that choco­late lovers have a heart, in­ter­est in eth­i­cal prod­ucts re­mains rel­a­tively strong, with 17% of new prod­ucts claim­ing some sort of “eth­i­cal-hu­man” po­si­tion­ing, which could in­clude fair trade, Rain­for­est Al­liance, or some other in­de­pen­dent “bean-to-bar” cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Al­though, still a small part of the cat­e­gory, ac­count­ing for less than 6% of global new prod­uct in­tro­duc­tions in 2016, launches of choco­late con­fec­tionery with an or­ganic claim in­creased 6% be­tween 2014 and 2016.

Fi­nally, Min­tel re­search shows that con­sumer de­mand is likely to be the ma­jor im­pe­tus for more con­ver­sion to or­ganic of­fer­ings. In In­dia, as many as 19% of In­dian con­sumers would like to see a wider va­ri­ety of nat­u­ral snacks that have no ad­di­tives or preser­va­tives, for in­stance.

“Pro­vid­ing or­ganic co­coa is prov­ing to be a chal­lenge for the in­dus­try. In or­der to sat­isfy the grow­ing de­mand, it will be­come nec­es­sary for more co­coa grow­ers to switch to or­ganic farm­ing meth­ods. As in­ter­est in healthy sweets con­tin­ues to rise, the avail­abil­ity of choco­late that of­fers or­ganic or all nat­u­ral po­si­tion­ing will be de­sir­able as con­sumers look for bet­ter-for-you op­tions.” Mar­cia con­cludes. to be finer than its creamier milk vari­ant, or its sweeter white al­ter­na­tive. Health ben­e­fit is one of the ma­jor cat­a­lyst for in­creas­ing the de­mand and chang­ing con­sumer choices as dark choco­late is a pow­er­ful source of an­tiox­i­dants and low­ers the risk of heart dis­ease. Un­like its milk and white cousins, it isn’t sweet and has a much lower calo­rie count, an en­tic­ing fact for the ever-in­creas­ing health-con­scious pop­u­la­tion. Choco­late is also an en­vi­ron­ment-sen­si­tive prod­uct; heat and hu­mid­ity can have dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects on it. Han­dling it, there­fore, re­quires more care and at­ten­tion than other gift­ing prod­ucts, mak­ing for a more praise­wor­thy gift.

As the coun­try pre­pares for Di­wali, some gift­ing trends have started to change. The shift from tra­di­tional mithai as gifts has started to con­sol­i­date; more­over, given our cur­rent glob­al­ized world, choco­late gift­ing ideas from abroad of­ten per­co­late down and in­flu­ence peo­ple’s minds. For ex­am­ple, festive col­ors for dec­o­rat­ing choco­late are be­com­ing more pop­u­lar so as to cel­e­brate in style and with a touch of so­phis­ti­ca­tion. Mac­arons, a sweet French del­i­cacy, have also seen their pop­u­lar­ity grow. The choco­late vari­ants of these are of­ten in­stant best­sellers. With a more well-trav­elled clien­tele, who will only set­tle for the high­est qual­ity, bak­eries need to pro­vide top qual­ity mac­arons.

An­other ris­ing trend is choco­late-coated nuts and dry fruits; from pis­ta­chios and al­monds to cran­ber­ries and even more ex­otic vari­ants such as Wasabi, these make for a vary­ingly col­or­ful gift, and re­fined, crunchy snacks for the festive sea­son. One of the great things about choco­late, af­ter all, is its ver­sa­til­ity and how it com­bines with an ar­ray of dif­fer­ent tex­tures, aro­mas and tastes, al­low­ing it to com­ple­ment other in­gre­di­ents with its earthy tones, with­out over­pow­er­ing the other com­po­nents.

An­other ris­ing trend is choco­late­coated nuts and dry fruits; from pis­ta­chios and al­monds to cran­ber­ries and even more ex­otic vari­ants such as Wasabi, these make for a vary­ingly col­or­ful gift, and re­fined, crunchy snacks for the festive sea­son.

The writer is pro­moter and mem­ber of the found­ing fam­ily of L’opéra. He is pas­sion­ate about Food & Bev­er­age in­dus­try. His mul­ti­cul­tural back­ground and ex­po­sure to sev­eral culi­nary cul­tures has in­creased his ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the di­ver­sity of food.

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