In 2017, international market intelligence agency Mintel reported that India is amongst the fastest growing chocolate markets in the world. They predicted that between 2016 and 2020 the chocolate industry would see a compound annual growth rate of 20.6% in India, and so far that trend hasn’t fallen short of its promise.

Anuj Rustagi, COO of Chocolates, Coffee and New Category Development for ITC Limited, explained one of the main factors behind this growth: “India is emerging as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and the corresponding rise of the urban middle class has led to a rapid rise in gourmet dining options and the overall consumption of pre-packed premium food products, including chocolate.”

Not only is there a rise in pre-packed premium food, however, market trends also show that the appetite for milk-chocolate is shifting to darker bars. Jay Jhaveri, CEO of online retailer Foodhall, confirms “There is a shift towards dark chocolate variants. And vegan, organic and sugar-free varieties are popular too.”

A growing part of India’s population is becoming more interested in healthy snacks and in general more conscious about where their food comes from. Fabien Bontems, co-founder and director of craft chocolate maker Auroville’s Mason & Co, told The Hindu, “People are conscious about healthier options and also look at where and how their chocolate is made.”

Despite large chocolate conglomerates like Mondelēz, Nestle and Mars accounting for well over 65% of the market share in India, there is a growing interest in craft chocolate. However, although international craft chocolate makers are gaining popularity, it is the surge in Indian bean to bar makers that’s particularly interesting. L Nitin Chordia, India’s first certified cocoa and chocolate taster, forecasted there to be over 40 bean-to-bar makers in India by the end of 2020.

Vikas Temani from Paul and Mike chocolate said that local bean to bar makers are more affordable than international makers and more genuine than ‘fine chocolate’ from larger brands. “In India, fine chocolates are either too expensive [like Pacari or the Vietnamese Marou] or mass-produced chocolates are being passed off as fine [like Lindt, Godiva],” he explained to The Hindu.

India’s appetite for dark chocolate and bold flavours has only just begun. The Indian chocolate market is forecasted to reach USD 1.8 Billion by 2024. Going forward, brand expert Harish Bijoor predicts that “bars with fruits like cranberry, prune or macadamia nuts [catering to the health-conscious] will be popular.”

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