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East is eden: Middle East ripe for chocolate growth amid volume declines in the West

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Douglas Yu

By Douglas Yu+

Last updated on 11-Jul-2017 at 12:12 GMT2017-07-11T12:12:16Z

Chocolate consumption rising in Iran, Israel and UAE. ©iStock/ferozeea
Chocolate consumption rising in Iran, Israel and UAE. ©iStock/ferozeea

Euromonitor International suggests the Middle East offers opportunities for chocolate manufacturers seeking to drive value growth.

While chocolate consumption volume in most western countries has been declining over the past five years, countries in the Middle East have experienced steady growth, according to Euromonitor data.

Iran’s chocolate confectionery consumption volume, for example, reached 41.1k tons in 2017 compared to 38.5k tons in 2012; Israel reached 25.9k tons in 2017 compared to 20.9k tons in 2012; while UAE reached 22.7k tons this year compared to 13.3k tons in 2012, data showed.

Other data indicated the total chocolate confectionery consumption in the Middle East and Africa together has reached 362.1k tons in 2017, compared to 309k tons in 2012.

Heat-stable chocolate

Developing high quality, heat stable chocolate products could be a significant advantage in markets, such as India and the Middle East, particularly among the most affluent consumers, Euromonitor said.

“The traditional tactic for many manufacturers has been to reduce cocoa butter content in hotter climates, particularly in the Middle East, instead using more cocoa powder, vegetable oil and carnuba wax,” Euromonitor said.

“However, establishment of a premium segment in warmer climates is likely to be 15 to 20 years in the future,” because chocolate is beyond the price range of the Middle East market, Euromonitor added.

“This will not change any time soon.”

Declining sales volume in western nations

The market research firm said declining chocolate consumption in developed nations is mainly caused by emerging health and wellness trends, and expanded snacking options.

“In the West, there appears to be underlying problems in volume consumption,” Euromonitor said. “In the US and Germany, volume sales posted negative 1% CAGRs over 2011-2016, and were similarly unimpressive in other key markets such as the UK and France. In 2016, the average German ate nine fewer chocolate bars compared to 2011.”

“Consumers are now more wary of adverse health effects of excessive consumption and, more importantly, there is a wider array of snacks available to the consumer, whether from foodservice outlets or in supermarkets,” Euromonitor added.

“There is now a far broader umbrella of what can be considered snacks. Not only are products such as snack bars and meat snacks rising in prominence, but products that have not traditionally been associated with snacking, such as cereals and yoghurt products, are now being transformed into products which can be consumed on the go," it said.

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