Food and Beverage Mar, 21 2014

Indulge in chocolate biz for sweet returns!

Inspite of the calories and fat it contains, chocolate is the most preferred choice these days when it comes to sweet indulgence. The demand for chocolates in India has clocked about 35 per cent rise as against last year primarily in urban areas due to th

By Ekta Sharma Verma, TFW Bureau
Sr. Sub-editor
Indulge in chocolate biz for sweet returns!

Imagine having a business where whole day you can be between sugary surprises! What better than a chocolate business. As per a report by TechSci Research, India's chocolate market is expected to reach $3.2 billion by 2018 due to increasing gifting culture in the country and increase in the income bracket. With the change in lifestyle, the Indian consumer is becoming very health-conscious. Few researches have also shown that dark or high cocoa content chocolates reduce cholesterol levels and as a result consumers prefer dark chocolates.

Gifting culture

With the changing preference in the gifting styles, the demand for chocolates has also augmented. No one wants to gift a mithai box on special occasions. The obvious choice is well wrapped and pleasingly packed chocolate boxes. Darshit Shah, MD, Leonidas Belgian Chocolates says: “Earlier people used to gift traditional Indian sweets only but now people want to gift different varieties of chocolates. Chocolates are the best gift for any occasions and are liked by all generations. Leonidas takes one step ahead by customising, engraving, embossing, printing boxes as per customer’s tastes, themes, personalisation with different kinds of wood, metals, fabrics, papers, woods, foil, laser etc.” As far as chocolate consumption pattern is concerned, it is very simple. Either one buys it for self consumption (self, family) or for gifting. While the established players like Cadbury, Nestle are preferred more for self consumption on day to day basis or for a very casual gifting, the handmade chocolates are picking up fast as a new gifting trend. Arvind Pandey, CEO and MD, C4 Choclates states: “We have over 30 varieties of handmade chocolates and customised packing. The gifting culture is certainly on a boom.”


As far as the trends in the industry are concerned, personalisation is likely to be the next consumer-driven revolution in the industry. Agreeing to it Shah of Leonidas says: “The healthier version of chocolates is to be among the next generation of functional foods, pushing the antioxidant effects of dark chocolate. In many countries, chocolate is an essential component of religious events, special occasions and festivals. Today, more than 100 different varieties of chocolates are enjoyed by the young and old from Brussels to New York, Sydney to Tokyo and from Paris to India. Leonidas has over 1400 stores worldwide in 46 countries out of which over 1000 are franchised stores. This model has been successful for both, us and the franchisees and it has helped us to grow at a very rapid pace. We have applied the same model in India and Asia to succeed and be part of the growth story.” For C4 Chocolates, Diwali, New Year and even weddings are very big chocolate gifting occasions. Pandey of C4 Chocolates says: “Gifting chocolates on baby shower, birth announcements and birthdays is also on a high. One very interesting imminent trend is people wanting to consume all that they have heard of Europeans. There is a trend among the youth asking for Dark Chocolates, that too as dark as 70 to 80 per cent.”

Training and support

Most of the brands in the chocolate industry provide thorough training and support to its franchisees. Chaitanya Kumar, CMD, The Chocolate Room says: “We always screen our franchisees background before finalising anything. We offer complete training and 24/7 technical Support to them.”

On the other hand Leonidas provides practical as well as theoretical training and knowledge on sight to the franchisee for one week. Support is also provided for site selection, store design and equipment ordering. C4 Chocolates seeks passionate people to join hands with. The brand provides complete support from helping to set up the store, product training, regular hand holding through supervision, stock replenishment, stock return and marketing.

Road ahead

India is one of the fastest and growing chocolate markets and most brands are planning to expand at a faster pace. The Chocolate Room has 110 franchise stores in India. By 2015, the brand plans to open another 50 outlets. Currently, it targets tier II and III cities. C4 chocolates has two company operated stores in Mumbai and two franchise stores (one in Nagpur and one in Mumbai). The brand further plans to open 15 franchise stores by 2015. The preferred cities are Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and NCR, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Calcutta. Leonidas currently has two stores in Mumbai and is focusing on expanding in New Delhi, Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai via the franchise route. Leonidas plans to open three more stores by end of 2015.

Over the last few decades there has been a dramatic increase in sales of sugar-free, less fat and low calorie offerings. This surely makes a way for people wanting to invest in the chocolate industry. The opportunities will keep flowing and growth will remain strong as chocolate is surely gaining popularity across countries.

Chocolaty facts:

·  A recent study indicates when men crave food, they tend to crave fat and salt. When women crave food, they tend to desire chocolate.

·  Bittersweet chocolate is what is usually called for in baking. It contains more chocolate liquor (at least 35%) and less sugar than sweet chocolate. Semisweet chocolate contains 15% - 35% chocolate liquor.

·  The word chocolate comes from the Aztec word xocolatl, meaning, bitter water.

·  The smell of chocolate increases theta brain waves, which triggers relaxation.

·  White chocolate isn't technically chocolate, as it contains no cocoa solids or cocoa liquor.

·  Eating dark chocolate every day reduces the risk of heart disease by one third.

·  Eating dark chocolate can also lower insulin resistance, the main problem behind diabetes.

Related: Dunkin’s franchise flavor now in India

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