Western brands relish India’s growing fondness for chocolates

India, essentially a land of spicy food and hot weather, is suddenly witnessing a new-found indulgence and serious craving for quality chocolate. The whole chocolate market in the country seems to be booming. Interestingly, pricey chocolates are more in demand as an object for both self-indulgence and gifting.

This is largely because of the fast-growing upper middle class in different Indian cities that has developed a special taste for choiced luxury goods, according to a recent report from Mintel Group, a market research firm. For the world’s luxury chocolate brands, it’s a great opportunity to break out from their own crowded markets back home to set foot into a high-growth market like this.

Mintel’s global consumer analyst Peter Ayton states there’s still vastly untapped market for premium chocolate makers, giving a tremendous opportunity for business in India, already among the world’s fastest-growing markets for chocolate right now. Sales have more than doubled to an impressive $857m in 2011 in comparison to just $418m three years ago, according to figures provided by Mintel in its report.

Chocolate consumption here has jumped a great deal, touching almost 2.6 ounces per person from mere 1.41 ounces four years ago. In other more mature markets such as the US, consumers averaged much heftier 12.8 lbs in 2011. In other words, India as the chocolate market has so much room to further grow. Looking to make headway into India’s untapped swelling consumer class, chocolate lovers in particular, a slew of American chocolatiers are drawing special plans.

A Tacoma, Wash.-based company, Brown & Haley, has been in the business of gourmet chocolates for nine decades, It launched in India its iconic Almond Roca last fall. The bewildering buttercrunch hard toffee, soaked in chopped almonds is a quintessential American variety. But the brand believes that its chocolates tend to mesh well with India’s ubiquitous palate since they love crunchy chocolate and almonds, so states its chief operating officer, John Melin. Brown & Haley’s other popular flavors include Cashew Roca, Mocha Roca and Dark Roca. All these debuted in the city of Mumbai in 2012, and are doing rather well, according to Melin.

It goes without saying that the corporate gifting scene has got a new mouth-watering twist thanks to the entry of global players in the country.

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