ITC eyes big bite of chocolate market

FMCG major ropes in top global cocoa suppliers, to work with cocoa farmers

FMCG conglomerate ITC aims to garner a dominant share in the country’s ₹11,000 crore chocolate market.

The company said it was chasing ‘big’ success in the chocolate business, similar to what it had already seen in categories such as atta, noodles and biscuits.

In an exclusive chat with The Hindu, Anuj Rustagi, chief operating officer — Chocolates, Coffee and New Categories — Food Division, ITC Ltd., said, “We did proper due diligence and study of the market before we debuted, with Fabelle. Our view in the near term is to have a dominant market share, similar to what ITC has achieved in many food categories.”’

According to Mr. Rustagi, a market analysis identified a set of consumers who look at chocolates for self-indulgence, while some may look at it as a a gifting or a snacking option. “While we are currently operating in the self-indulgence and the gifting space, in the near future, we wish to be present in as many segments as possible and cater to every chocolate loving consumer’s needs.”

He said the company had initially invested ₹100 crore to set up a greenfield chocolate manufacturing facility in Haridwar with a capacity of 5,000 tonnes per annum. In addition to this, another factory was opened in Bengaluru exclusively for making luxury chocolates.

Cold chain efficiency

The company has also invested in the global cooling technologies and real-time digital monitoring systems to ensure the cold chain remained efficient without downtime.

To ensure supply of prime-quality cocoa, ITC has roped in top global cocoa suppliers from Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Venezuela, Madagascar and India. It has plans to work with cocoa farmers directly in future.

“We executed innumerable trials and extensive research in our pursuit to craft the finest luxury chocolates in India and invested in training and getting the best talent and master chocolatiers.”

Mr. Rustagi said chocolate connoisseurs in the country had been appreciative of chocolate from ITC. “The overwhelming response we received, after launching Ruby Gianduja in the luxury segment, prompted us to extend the experience of Ruby Chocolate to the larger consumer base and hence the launch of Fabelle Choco Deck Milk and Ruby Chocolate varieties.”

India’s chocolate market is pegged at ₹11,000 crore, of which premium chocolates can be sized anywhere between 10% and 15%.

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