ASIA Cocoa Industry still upbeat of future in Asia despite the pandemic November 2020
 
Despite the pandemic causing a 10% drop in cocoa grinding in 2020, the industry is still upbeat about future prospects in Asia due to its rising middle class and youth population which supported growth in this segment.
AFBR has the opportunity to interview Marc Donaldson, Executive Director at Cocoa Association of Asia (CAA) who was speaking at a recent webinar on ‘COVID-19 & Outlook for Cocoa Demand’ organised by FHA-Food & Beverage and Saladplate.
The following are excerpts from the interview with him:

How important is Asia market to the global demand and production of cocoa ?
Cocoa consumption in Asia has been growing significantly over the past 4 years, from 600,000 tonnes of cocoa bean processing in 2015 to nearly 900,000 tonnes in 2019. That represents a 12.5% year on year increase, which gives Asia a substantial 20% share of the global cocoa processing market. (refer to Chart 1.0)

For the Asian market, how does cocoa being used/applied ? Can give breakdown in terms of importance.
Cocoa powder has been the main driver behind increased consumption. The wide variety of popular consumer products where cocoa powder is used as an ingredient, nearly all of which do not require temperature controlled distribution, gives this growth a strong foundation for the future. Cocoa powder can be used in biscuits, cakes, ice cream, bakery, desserts, drinks, compound coatings, cereals and many confectionery applications.

Which parts of Asia is experiencing exploding growth for cocoa products and why ?
Both China and India have been the main drivers for increased consumption of cocoa products, and with a combined population over nearly 3 billion, they present a significant growth opportunity.
Whilst neither cocoa or chocolate were a part of mainstream Chinese food culture, today a new generation of inquisitive consumers is ready and willing to experience different tastes and flavors.
In India, cocoa and chocolate have been part of the food culture for generations, and India is the largest biscuit market in the world. As the economy develops, creating more disposable income, the growing appetite for cocoa and chocolate will also follow.
What are the current trends for cocoa products in Asia ?
In the cocoa powder space, there is an ongoing trend for new colours and taste profiles, clean labelling, and the focus on health benefits. In the chocolate space, customers are looking at new shapes sizes, decorations, bake stability and easy to use products.
The pandemic has re-focused consumers mindset on maintaining health and wellness. Cocoa is well known for its health benefits, especially powder and dark chocolate products.
Cocoa and chocolate are also tasty and nutritious, so we may see many more products focusing on these benefits on the shelves in the future.

How does the pandemic affect demand for cocoa and cocoa products ?
One of the highlights of COVID-19 has been the explosion in baking at home. This has led to many consumers, who have never baked before, creating their own favourite products. However, once the pandemic starts to recede, then there should be a question if this trend will continue.
If this is indeed the case, then bakery manufacturers might be well advised to upgrade their product ranges, and offer more complex products that cannot easily be reproduced at home.
CAA members who produce cocoa and chocolate products have already reacted to the shift in consumer demand, offering new flavours and inclusions for the baking industry.

What do you think the future holds for cocoa industry particularly in Asia ?
Within the next 5 years, Asia has the potential to become the No.2 consumer of cocoa and chocolate products globally. The other major markets of Europe and the US are already mature, and have shown little recent growth. Asia is the ‘new kid on the block’ with a huge potential market to aim for, and currently with low per capita consumption of cocoa and chocolate products. The future indeed looks very bright for Asia when it comes to cocoa-related products.
There is also the prospect for strong recovery for Asia in the following year as West Africa and Latin America, exporters of 80% of cocoa beans to Asia, are set to increase their production.
 

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