The majority of India’s small cocoa crop is sold to Mondelēz International, while Swiss firm Chocolat Stella and Austrian manufacturer Zotter already produce single origin Indian chocolate bars.
Chocolate taster and business consultant L Nitin Chordia told ConfectioneryNews he was working with other unnamed bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturers that see an opportunity for a unique cocoa origin chocolate.
‘This is the start’
“This is the start…When you look at Indian cocoa, a lot of bean-to-bar chocolate makers are looking at offering something new. With fine chocolate makers, everyone is interested in evaluating the beans in India,” he said.
Chordia brought an Indian cocoa farmer to the Chocoa conference in Amsterdam in March this year, in a move that has stirred interest among premium chocolatiers.
Last year Mars told this site it would start to source cocoa beans from India within two years
Chordia said five high-end chocolate firms now planned to support farmers to enhance India’s cocoa sector.
Building up quality
“The beans may not be the best, but it’s something different,” said the consultant. “None of the bean-to-bar makers are able to get much flavor out of the chocolate, I must be honest.”
Good agricultural practices are currently not widespread in India, which undermines the quality of its cocoa.
Cocoa farmers in India are concentrated in the state of Kerala. Chordia said the region has a lot rainfall and less sunshine than other parts of the country, creating potential problems for drying cocoa beans.
“Indian farmers don’t know the best fermentation and pruning techniques,” he added. “They were so used to selling to Cadbury that fermentation and drying wasn’t required.”
India’s cocoa sector
Through Cadbury, Mondelēz International introduced cocoa to India in 1965 when it began a commercial cultivation project. The company remains the biggest buyer of Indian cocoa, while other purchasers include Nestlé and Campco.
The International Cocoa Association (ICCO) estimated India’s cocoa output for the 2013/14 season at around 16,000 metric tons (MT) - roughly 0.4% of the global supply.
Rubber and coffee are the main crops for Indian farmers, but Chordia said many farmers now saw the potential for cocoa cultivation.
Chordia said there were only around six farmers in the entire country that do not sell to Mondelēz. The rest of the farmers are understood to be paid the world market price for their beans, but do not have a contract to sell exclusively to Mondelēz.
Chordia said there was a market gap in India for premium chocolate after reports emerged that Lindt planned to exit the Indian market. Last year Lindt declined to comment to our questions after a distributor claimed the Swiss firm would leave India.
“India will be the largest chocolate market for Indian single origin chocolate,” said Chordia.