Indians warming up to the dark side of chocolate

  • M Rajendran, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 29, 2014 02:03 IST

Bought a bar of dark chocolate? You just contributed to one of the fastest growing segments in India as chocolate-makers turn to darker shades of brown.

It is not just about a new product: dark chocolate, which contains flavanol, has anti-oxidant properties, and as Indians turn more health conscious and their tastes mature, the demand for dark chocolate, which has just a 9% market-share currently, is growing by leaps and bounds, according to analysts.

“The Indian consumers’ tastes (for chocolates) are constantly evolving… dark chocolate category in India is expected to grow positively,” said Puneet Kumar, chairman (north) of the All-India Food Processing Industry.

Market leaders such as Mondelez (earlier Cadbury) have started increasing the proportion of cocoa in their chocolate to 50% — standard milk chocolate in India usually have a maximum of 40% cocoa, and makes up about 75% of the demand.

Said Tejaswee Shrestha, a senior research analyst at ValueNotes: “Increase in purchasing power and exposure to global brands will drive the premium chocolate market.”

The perceived health benefit is also one factor for the switch to dark chocolate. “Dark chocolate increases blood flow to the brain as well as to the heart, so it can help improve cognitive function... reduce your risk of stroke,” said Meghna Mevawala, nutritionist and dietician at Delhi-based Crest Diabetologist Centre.

Mondelez and Nestle India had nearly 92% of the Indian market in 2013-14. Mars International and Ferrero India are building up demand, according to ValueNotes.

India’s chocolate industry is valued at Rs 5,800 crore in 2013-14. It is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 16% to touch Rs 12,200 crore by 2019.

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