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An industry often categorised as impulsive and indulgent for consumers, the chocolate industry in India moves quickly and is expected to see double-digit growth over the next five years. Indeed, latest research from the world’s leading market intelligence agency Mintel predicts that the total value of the chocolate market will reach an estimated INR 172 billion in 2019 and is pegged to grow at a CAGR of close to 10% between 2019-2023.

Further proving the popularity of chocolate, almost three in five (58%) Indians have consumed chocolate in the past three months*, including an impressive one in five (21%) who say they eat chocolate daily, according to Mintel research.

Taking a closer look at those who’ve eaten chocolate in the last three months, three in five (61%) say they are frequent users, meaning they eat chocolate daily or at least once a week. The cohort consists of 55% women and 45% men.

Given how frequently the majority of Indian consumers appear to eat chocolate, it’s no surprise that Mintel research estimates that the chocolate market value reached INR 156 billion in 2018.

Natasha Kumar, Food & Drink Analyst, India, at Mintel, said:

“Frequent chocolate consumers are the key to further growth in the chocolate confectionery category. Brands can leverage this high consumer interest by increasing consumption occasions like snacking, introducing interesting flavours to encourage more trial, and looking at healthier alternatives or functional benefits. Innovating to target specific demographics like women through effective communication is also an opportunity area for brands in India to explore.”

Playing up functional and emotional benefits

Almost a fifth (18%) of consumers say they are interested in sugar-free chocolates. Data from Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) reveals that, from July 2016 to June 2019, more than 3% of chocolate confectionery launches carried a no added-sugar claim in India.

Mintel research also reveals that many consumers have chocolate for emotional reasons. In fact, almost half (47%) of Indians eat chocolate to boost their mood and nearly a quarter (24%) eat chocolate to reward themselves. Along with emotional reasons, functional benefits are gaining prominence. Indeed, almost a quarter (24%) of consumers say they have chocolate to boost energy levels.

“In a world that is becoming more health-conscious, chocolate doesn’t have to be labelled as indulgent and can extend well beyond by incorporating health benefits like reduced trans fat, reduced sugar and relaxation benefits. Sugar reduction has become ‘the need of the hour’ and, albeit at a lower base, chocolate confectionery launches with the no-added sugar claim is gaining traction. Furthermore, as more and more consumers prioritise functional food and drink, chocolate with added benefits will allow brands to stand out from the competition. Along these lines, there is an opportunity to introduce more energy-specific claims to garner interest. Brands can look at incorporating ingredients such as guarana, coffee and protein, which are gaining popularity for their energy-providing properties,” explains Natasha.

Moving towards smaller packs

Finally, Mintel GNPD indicates that between August 2017-July 2018 and August 2018-July 2019, the percentage of individually wrapped chocolate launches doubled, increasing by 50.4%. Mintel research highlights that one-sixth of consumers in India say they would prefer chocolates in smaller portions.

“An increase in the share of individually wrapped chocolate products is indicative of increasing health-consciousness among Indian consumers who are trying to control portion size. Brands need to keep in mind that bite-sized portions are gaining popularity in India and, therefore, new product innovation should do the same. The difference may not seem significant just yet, but brands have an opportunity to innovate in smaller SKUs as consumer preference trends in this direction. This will have more advantages in the future, when it comes to attributes like portability, storage and, more importantly, controlled portion size, creating permissible indulgence for consumers,” concluded Natasha.

*3,000 Indian adults aged 18+ who have eaten chocolate in the three months to May 2019

Press review copies of Mintel’s Chocolate Confectionery Indian Consumer 2019 Report and interviews with Natasha Kumar, Food & Drink Analyst, India at Mintel, are available on request from the Mintel Press Office.