What is the potential of the Chinese cocoa market?

April 9, 2022

The chocolate market continues to grow

Cocoa is an important source of chocolate and cocoa content is a key indicator of chocolate quality. Chocolate is considered a health food due to its cocoa content, with dark chocolate receiving the most attention, with its cocoa content typically ranging from 70% to 90%. The degree of development of the chocolate market determines the consumption of cocoa powder. The global chocolate market is growing at around 6%, and the demand for cocoa powder is increasing year by year. However, the production of cocoa has also maintained a high growth rate in the last decade, so the price of the cocoa market is relatively stable.

cocoa powder

China is an important market for chocolate consumption, the sales scale of chocolate, the number of consumers is growing steadily, the per capita consumption continues to increase, chocolate has become more people’s favorite sweet food category, and in 2019, chocolate flavor has become the number one flavor of online casual food. In recent years, China’s chocolate industry has been maintaining an annual growth rate of 10%-15%, higher than the performance of the global chocolate market. However, the per capita consumption is very low, and Euromonitor International data show that in 2017, China’s per capita chocolate consumption was only 0.1 kg, while Switzerland, which has the highest per capita consumption of chocolate, reached 8.8 kg, so there is a lot of room for the development of China’s chocolate market.

Slow growth of cocoa beverages

The application of cocoa in beverages is much inferior. Coffee and tea are two popular types of beverages today, whether brewed or processed, and most of their products are mainly inclined to the beverage category. Data show that global tea production was about 5.57 million tons in 2017, with output reaching 5,856,400 tons in 2018, up about 3% year-on-year, and global tea production will exceed 6 million tons in 2019. International Coffee Organization data show that the total global coffee production in 2017 was 9.58 million tons, and has exceeded 10 million tons in 2018, while cocoa production in 2017 was 4.85 million tons, which has set a record high, and its production is much lower than that of tea and coffee. And the main application direction of cocoa is chocolate, has taken up the vast majority of cocoa production, the remaining part of the dessert, candy, etc., for the beverage has not much, its growth momentum is weak.

The rapid growth of the beverage industry also provides more possibilities for the application of cocoa powder, and then considering the surplus of cocoa production in recent years, it has shown growth in the beverage industry. However, due to the lack of stability of cocoa beverages, even alkaline treated cocoa powder is prone to precipitation during the shelf life, so most of the current cocoa beverages exist in the form of instant powder, which is ready to drink and can provide consumers with a better taste.

The “diversion” of chocolate to cocoa powder function

In terms of function, chocolate is the most researched category of cocoa powder products, with cardiovascular health benefits being the most published research finding.

Dr. Chayakrit Kritnaon of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York led a team of researchers to analyze and organize data on 575,000 individuals and found that chocolate is beneficial to cardiovascular health, specifically, consuming 3 pieces of chocolate per month can reduce the risk of heart failure by 13%; a recent study by the University of Coimbra in Portugal showed that people who eat a few pieces of dark chocolate every day can, within 1 month Lower blood pressure. Although milk chocolate is also beneficial, dark chocolate, which contains 90% cocoa, has the best blood pressure-lowering effect.

Of course, chocolate has been shown to have other functions, such as slowing hearing loss, relieving diarrhea, and educating.

There have been many studies confirming the ability of cocoa powder to lower blood lipids and improve cardiovascular problems, but its functionality has never been independently valued for two reasons.

Flavanols are the main functional component in cocoa, and their dose-function relationship has been confirmed in numerous studies on chocolate. However, flavanols are unstable, prone to oxidation and polymerization, have multiple stereoisomeric forms, are more difficult to isolate and purify, and are more difficult to study in independent functional studies.

The popularization and accessibility of chocolate has attracted more attention, making the research on cocoa powder less supported by the “market”. Domestic health food containing cocoa powder is not a lot, but the role of the flavor is outstanding, with cocoa powder as a functional raw material for a few products, the value needs to be further explored.