China and Chocolate

China is the second largest world power. Its territory covers 9,677,009 km² and its population is the highest in the world at 1.330 million inhabitants. It is also one of the oldest civilizations of our era. Its history is rich in cultural, historical, and scientific wealth. Currently, the Chinese economy is based on exports. China’s industrial and technological sectors are the most developed in the world: textiles, mechanics, electronics, plastics, and metallurgy. This rapid and high level of development has been facilitated by the presence on the territory of an affordable and almost unlimited workforce, and a large resource of scarce raw materials required by the industrial sector, among other things. Chinese religion is a mixture of Buddhist tradition and Chinese philosophy such as Confucianism, Taoism, and Yi Jing. Cuisine is also a beacon of China’s cultural influence. It is based on the diversity of dishes and ingredients, which give it a unique and delicious taste. The best-known dishes include: duck, noodle soup, and donuts. The legend says that chocolate wasn’t brought to China until the early 18th century. In fact, chocolate has not easily integrated into Chinese culture. Nevertheless, the Chinese chocolate confectionery market is booming so that many foreign manufacturers are entering the sector.

China and Chocolate

While a Swissperson consumes up to 11 kg of chocolate products a year, a Chinese person absorbs only 100 g in the same period. Despite the increase in the consumption of chocolate over the last twenty years, this food is still a foreign product in Chinese culture. This vision was fully justified by Paul Wang, a chef who also said, “We do not grow cocoa in China, so we do not eat chocolate. We consider it just a treat, a hobby.” However, the growth in Chinese living standards and the expansion of travel services have encouraged urban youth to enjoy this food abroad and to seek the same quality of chocolate in China. In the same way, the local consumption of chocolate particularly increases during festivities such as Valentine’s Day, Christmas, New Year, etc. In general, the chocolate market is growing by 10 to 15% per year and reached up to 846 million euros in 2009. For thirty years, this still immature market is 70% dominated by foreign brands such as Mars, Ferrero, and Nestle. However, local brands like Le Conte and Golden Monkey are trying to break into the market despite low-end production.

In 2011, more than 1,500 Chinese chocolate brands were identified on the market. This denounces an inevitably intensive competition.

Some Figures

As we have already pointed out, the Chinese market has great growth potential. Indeed, the year 2008 sees the Chinese chocolate industry produce more than 1 million tons of confectionery, which generates a 15% growth compared to 2007. The overall turnover of the sector has also evolved since 2007 (4 billion euros in 2008 versus 3 billion euros the previous year). Overall, the Chinese chocolate sector brought in a total profit of 540 million euros in 2008 to the industrial and commercial sectors.