KOLKATA/NEW DELHI: Little girls and boys, be advised to keep your chocolates and toffees safe...or your parents may bite into them!
Chocolate and confectionery makers say adult consumption of chocolates and candies is growing at the fastest pace in India, and companies like Mondelez, Mars, Nestle,Perfetti Van Melle, Parle and ITCBSE 0.83 %are launching new products and brands that target the grown-up.
Now there's a lollipop to overcome boredom, sugar-free mint for the calorie conscious, a toffee which can boost romance, and dark chocolates that are bitter yet sweet.
Spencer's Retail president & CEO Mohit Kampani says almost 20% of chocolate sales in at the retailer come from adult chocolates. "Adult chocolate consumption is getting a fillip from modern retail. A recent Nielsen report shows chocolate sold through modern retail has outpaced that of general trade," he says.
Kampani says new ways of positioning the brands has put the category into high consumption mode, with per capita consumption going up from 40 gm in 2005 to 120 gm this year.
Urban consumers now buy chocolates and confectionery for everyday consumption. Earlier, they would buy them mostly during festivals. Also, more and more Indian consumers are replacing traditional sweets with chocolates.
Indians now prefer chocolates over 'chaat and tikki' in a substantial change in snack consumption pattern, according to a report by leading chocolate maker Mars along with research firm IMRB. The report mapping snacking consumption patterns among Indians was released in June.
"Over the years, change in consumers' preferences, eating habits and their global exposure has given a boost to the chocolate industry," MV Natarajan, managing director (chocolate) at Mars International India, says. He says that the chocolate market is registering high growth mainly because of availability, affordability, anytime-anywhere consumption and convenience. "Chocolates are now considered a fun-to-eat snack rather than occasional luxuries and an important item in consumers' grocery baskets," Natarajan says.
It's hardly surprising then that Mars, which makes Snickers, Galaxy and Mars chocolates, debuted its first television commercial for Snickers with 50-something actor Rekha late last year.
India's chocolate market is estimated at around Rs 3,000 crore while the organised confectionery market is around Rs 2,000 crore. The overall chocolate market is growing 15% a year, while the growth in modern retail is almost double of that.
As per a recently published 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.
Devendra Chawla, president (Food Bazaar) at the country's largest retailer Future Group, says Indian consumers are upgrading their mithai consumption with chocolates, leading to premiumisation in the category.
"Actually, a reverse category creation is happening with more Indians eating out where they complete their meal with a dessert. Several Indian homes now have chocolates as dessert which increases the frequency of consumption," he says. Chawla says dark chocolate is the fastest-growing category in modern trade, growing at more than double the overall category over the last six months.
Various chocolate companies are already in the product development process and are giving consumers options ranging from low calorie, energy bars to vegetarian chocolates.
In March, Parle relaunched its Kismi toffee as a romance inducer targeting young adults, which immediately doubled its sales, Parle Products group product manager B Krishna Rao says.
NestleBSE 0.70 % has launched a dark chocolate with a sweet taste specifically designed for Indian consumers.
Popular premium chocolate brands like Mondelez's Toblerone and Lindt entered the Indian market last year and, along with market leader Ferrero Rocher, they are expanding distribution beyond modern retail to kiranas.
ITC too is targeting the adult consumer. It recently launched a sugar-free 'mint-o Ultra mintz'. "While we try to deliver a universal taste for the candies, the success of our Mint-o range has made us focus more on adult-specific products," ITC divisional chief executive (foods) Chitranjan Dar says.
Cadbury India has been one of the earliest brands to drive chocolate consumption amongst adults with campaigns such as 'khane ke baad kuch meetha ho jaye' and 'shubh arambh' for its brands like Dairy Milk, Five Star, Perk and Gems.