Peter Ayton, global consumer analyst at Mintel, told ConfectioneryNews.com: “It’s just because confectionery in India is an alien concept.”
The Economist Intelligence Unit and Mintel recently teamed to produce ’Convergence with Divergence’, a report comparing household spending in China, India, Mexico, Turkey and South Africa to the UK as US.
The report forecasted that the prepared foods segment would remain strong, particularly chocolate. However, it found that consumption in India was still very low.
Indian retail network
Ayton said a strong retail network was not yet present and a lot of food went to waste, particularly chocolate that is sensitive to hot temperatures.
Ayton said that foreign direct investors were being denied entry to retail space in India as the government sought to protect Indian business – but attitudes were changing. According to Ayton, the government is softening its stance.
“Retailers are being welcomed there by the government which wants them to set up a distribution chain,” he said.
Tesco and Walmart are two retail giants considering Indian entry, he said.
“Laws are being rescinded to make it easier. If distribution works better – what a huge market that would be,” he added.
UK biggest chocolate spenders
Mintel’s research found UK consumers were the biggest chocolate spenders per head, followed closely by the US.
Ayton said that the UK may have trumped the US due to consumer preferences towards countlines, which were pricier than US choices.
Consumers in Turkey, South Africa and Mexico all spent around one third of US levels.
Below these nations, came China, just before India at the very bottom.
“Chocolate is not within the East Asian pallete,” said Ayton, adding that chocolate makers would need to cater to local tastes.
He said that since China’s sweet tooth wasn’t particularly strong, chocolatiers could consider using more cocoa to create a bitterer taste – however the extra commodity costs may prove a barrier.