Undeterred by presence of global majors, food ingredient supplier Cargill plans to enter India’s high growth chocolate segment via its first plant in the country.
Initially, the company plans to offer chocolate compounds, chips and paste to domestic players through its first manufacturing operation in Asia by mid-2021.
This plant is expected to come up in western India.
Accordingly, the food ingredients major cites immense long-term potential and healthy demand conditions in 2021 for it to take a bite into the segment.
Cargill’s proprietary research has shown that the segment is estimated to grow at an average annual rate of 13-14 per cent per annum, making India, the world’s fastest growing chocolate market.
In a conversation with IANS, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate Asia-Pacific’s Managing Director Francesca Kleemans said that consumer preference for chocolates in India has increased with a shift from traditional sweets and year-round consumption of ice cream besides baked goods and premium products.
“Consumers are seeking unique flavors, taste and textures, yet per capita, consumption of chocolate is low in India compared to global markets, creating huge potential for growth,” Kleemans said.
Besides, she elaborated that Covid-19 has accelerated the shift towards more affordable snacks and packaged foods that are nutritious, especially chocolates.
“With the pandemic restricting social and out-of-home dining activities, Indian consumers are also turning to chocolate,” she said.
“Fueled by increased consumption and personal gifting around festivals like ‘Rakhi, Diwali’ and year-end holidays, food manufacturers are observing strong rebound in the demand for chocolate, with rural markets driving a large part of sales.”
In response to these positive trends, she said that companies are pivoting their marketing strategies to target growth segments and promoting chocolate products which offer affordability, convenience and nutrition to consumers.
On India’s long term potential, she said that recent GDP data has shown that the economy is on the track to recover faster than earlier predicted.
“With strong growth fundamentals underpinning the chocolate market, we are optimistic that demand will remain healthy as we head into 2021 and in the long run,” she said.