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Snack Expo|Chocolate in China- Enter the Sweet Chocolate Market

2024.06.12

According to Snack Expo, over the years, Chinese tastes have evolved because of globalization and increasing purchasing power. Chocolate was considered quite rare or for special occasions before, but now it’s ruling on shops’ shelves. From luxury Belgian chocolate made by master chocolatiers to mass distribution of chocolate products, China’s chocolate market is one of the most promising for brands that wish to export their activities overseas.

 

With almost 1.4 billion Chinese inhabitants and a growing middle class, it is a wonderful opportunity for brands to conquer and retain a wide audience. The China Chocolate Market size is expected to grow from USD 3.83 billion in 2023 to USD 4.85 billion by 2028, at a CAGR of 4.81% during the forecast period (2023-2028). Therefore, the Chinese chocolate market is an attractive choice for foreign manufacturers trying to introduce chocolate and cocoa products in China.

 

Chinese Chocolate Market Overview

Being one of the most consumed and appreciated food products, chocolate is the most popular sweet dessert in the world, with a global industry predicted to reach 160.9 billion dollars by 2027.

 

Even though China is way behind the U.S. and Switzerland in terms of chocolate consumption, it has witnessed a growing demand in the past few years, becoming a very promising industry in China, especially for foreign chocolate companies.

 

The Chocolate Industry in China

Chocolate was introduced in 1705 to the Chinese emperor Kangxi as a gift, but the chocolate market in China has boomed since the 1990s. Considered for a long time as a premium product for special occasions, it progressively became a kitchen cupboard essential for many Chinese. It is important to know that Chinese consumers are not used to eating chocolate, and it was thanks to foreign brands expanding their activities in China that chocolate consumption was democratized.

 

Chinese people are not used to eating chocolate and desserts, as Chinese culture was never about sweets. Snack Expo states that Chinese food usually consists of 5 tastes; salty, spicy, sweet, sour, and bitter. But the sweet taste is added to main sour dishes and is not treated as something separate, reserved for dessert as we do it in the West.

 

Although international chocolate makers like Mars Group, Nestlé, or Ferrero are already storming the chocolate market in China, this market is still considered untapped, leaving opportunities for new brands to have a piece of this (chocolate) cake.

 

China’s Chocolate Consumption

What is important to mention is the fact that most of the chocolate in China is not consumed as such, because Chinese people are still in the process of getting used to consuming chocolate. They prefer to add it to other chocolate products, like cakes with a fragrant milky taste enriched by milk chocolate, soft candy with chocolate chips, biscuits, and sweet drinks.

 

China’s chocolate market is dominated by cocoa and dark chocolate, as Chinese people are more conscious about their health and are aiming for a more balanced diet with saccharine desserts instead of real sugar. According to Market Watch research, cocoa beans reached 64,127.70 tons in 2022 with a CAGR of 6.60% in terms of volume.

 

How to Sell Your Chocolate in China?

What is important to understand about China chocolate market is that Chinese netizens are new to chocolates and sweets, as it’s something that they didn’t have in their culture before. The capita consumption in China is still very small in comparison to other countries like US or even Japan, where every person eats 1.2kg a year. In China, it’s only 0.1kg.

 

Although there are a lot of business opportunities for foreign brands on China chocolate market, chocolates are gaining popularity rather in big cities like Shanghai, where people are used to Western products and international standards. Therefore, while crafting a marketing strategy for your brand, you need to think of appropriate distribution channels so that your chocolates gain the audience you are looking for.

 

Supermarkets and grocery stores have the biggest sales of chocolates in China, but when it comes to other distribution channels that cater to Chinese standards, the most profitable will be chocolate stores.

 

If you want to expand your activities in China and sell chocolates, you are probably wondering if you should open your store. Even though the majority of Chinese consumers are buying chocolate directly in supermarkets or on e-commerce platforms, the younger generation now wants higher-quality and creative products with high prices, because they consider them more luxurious.

 

Opening a flagship store of your brand in one of luxury malls or shopping streets in first tier city in the country will make your brand stand out. However, don’t forget that you might also need to use e-commerce platforms to increase your sales and build brand awareness.

 

Following China’s rapid digitalization over the past decade, several e-commerce platforms were able to stand out in the Chinese market, grabbing over 900 million users in 2023, and enabling this enormous spurt in China’s e-commerce sector. Thus, all kinds of chocolate brands need to sell their chocolate online, using e-commerce platforms.

 

Snack Expo recommends that if you want to target a wide audience of consumers, you need to have the best tool to do so. E-commerce platforms allow you to control directly your sales, enabling at the same time consumers all across China to purchase your chocolate and receive it within the day.

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