In a nation where gifting and feasting are ingrained traditions, chocolate is replacing the Indian sweets (mithai) at festivals, weddings and other significant events.
When in the 15th century Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer, found the cocoa beans, he would have never thought that chocolate made from these beans would become such an intrinsic part of the European culture. It is used on every occasion, every day. Festivals like Euro Chocolate, Festi Choc, Le Salon du Chocolat and many other are preeminent in the continent to celebrate chocolate. Now the significance is building up in India too.
Chocolates are replacing the traditional Indian sweets on festivals, weddings, birthdays and other occasions. More and more Indians now preferably distribute chocolates instead of local sweets. “Orders for chocolates increased in 2015 as compared to 2014.
People usually order chocolates for gifting purposes and the demand is high during the festive season, especially during Diwali,” says Megha Gulati, who runs a small chocolate boutique in New Delhi. “The unique gift packing interests people the most. Retirement, house warming parties, birthdays and more,
chocolate is a versatile gift for every occasion,” she added. Chocolates also found a way into the Indian weddings, which are considered sacred and holds a great relevance in Indian society. . Weddings are the biggest lifetime expense for Indians and in the evident spending and glitter, chocolates are now given away with the wedding invites replacing the traditional sweets. Not only this, even the wedding banquets now feature fancy chocolate fountains.
“I gifted chocolates along with my wedding invitation cards as combining the invitation with sweets or dry fruits is too typical now, whereas chocolates are in vogue,” said Ankur Magan from Punjab who got married in 2011.
What’s more – the snacking pattern has changed too. Indians have started preferring chocolates and chocolate products over the local evening snacks and sweets. Chocolate’s popularity for individual consumption and for the purpose of baking is fast catching up. According to a report released by TechSci Research – ‘India Chocolate Market Forecast and Opportunities 2018’ – chocolate revenues in India are likely to witness a compound annual growth rate of nearly 21 pc from 2013-2018, with the growth in gifting culture.
Chocolates are no more occasional luxuries in India. Where earlier people would buy chocolates mostly for special occasions, they now purchase it for everyday consumption. Chocolate market in the country is marking an increase in the growth rates primarily because of availability, affordability, anytime-anywhere consumption and convenience. Attractive wrappings, consistent quality, shelf life, health related benefits and the increasing western influence, are driving the demand for chocolates in India.
Adulteration in traditional Indian sweets along with the sky rocket prices of dry fruits is also responsible why people prefer chocolates. The soaring popularity of desserts like cookies, cakes, doughnuts and the latest macaroons sold at deluxe bakeries across the country have also caught the attention of the youth who may find the conventional Indian sweets boring.
“This valentine’s day, I have ordered special delicacies as theme-based chocolates and packing are really appealing and we can even add a personalised touch,” said Vansh Sirohi, a Delhi student who ordered chocolates from an exclusive chocolate gift shop operating in the city.
India’s long love affair with the culture of gifting has urged the international brands to pitch their chocolates as status-symbol gifts during special festivals like Diwali – the Indian festival of lights and Rakshabandhan – the celebration of the bond between siblings in the country. These are amongst the most cherished festivals in India and people are increasingly bending towards beautifully packaged chocolates over mithai.
Cadbury has been one of the earliest brands to drive chocolate consumption amongst Indians with campaigns such as ‘khane ke baad kuch meetha ho jaye’ (Let’s have something sweet after food) and ‘shubh arambh’ (a great start) for its chocolates like Dairy Milk, Five Star, Perk and Gems. They also make a special ‘Cadbury celebrations pack’ in India during festivals for gifting purposes.
Popular premium chocolate brands like Mondelez’s Toblerone, Hershey’s and Lindt entered the Indian market, along with Ferrero Rocher and are boosting circulation beyond modern retail stores.
Nestle even launched a sweet dark chocolate specifically for the Indian consumers. Key players like Nestle and Mars are making efforts to establish a strong presence in the Indian market. But whether premium or not, chocolate is invading India, and no one seems to mind.