Japanese chocolate output remained relatively constant throughout the first six months of 2003, according to the latest figures from the Chocolate and Cocoa Association of Japan . Total production amounted to nearly 93,000 tonnes, nearly the same figure as recorded the previous year.
There were some modest increases within several subsectors. Production from cocoa bean grinding, for example, increased by just over 12 per cent, while cocoa butter production increased by an impressive 40 per cent.
However, there was little change in the production of finished chocolate products, although the amount of cocoa powder produced, both sweetened and unsweetened, did increase.
Figures produced by the Chocolate and Cocoa Association of Japan provide an accurate picture of The organisation is composed of 26 member companies, whose combined production represented about 96 per cent of total chocolate production in the country last year.
European manufacturers will be looking closely at the implications of the figures. According to a report from Datamonitor, Asia offers strong potential for the chocolate industry. This stems largely from the sheer size of the market - in 2001 the Asia-Pacific chocolate market reached a value of $6.3 billion in 2001. Indeed, the fact that this region still accounts for only a small portion of the global chocolate market reflects relatively low consumption levels. If per capita consumption levels can be increased, the size of this market has the potential to increase considerably.
The fact that chocolate is not a traditional food, high prices and domestic production problems will provide the main problems to market growth. As these markets develop, prices will fall making these products more accessible to the wider population.