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China’s Chocolate Market

Over the years, Chinese preferences have undergone a transformation due to globalization and rising disposable incomes. Once considered a rarity reserved for special occasions, chocolate now commands significant shelf space in stores. 
China’s chocolate market presents an enticing opportunity for brands seeking to expand their global reach. Projections indicate that China’s Chocolate Market is poised to increase from USD 3.83 billion in 2023 to USD 4.85 billion by 2028, with a compound annual growth rate of 4.81%. Consequently, foreign manufacturers looking to introduce chocolate and cocoa products in China find the Chinese chocolate market an appealing prospect.

Chocolate Introduction in China 

It wasn’t until the 1990s that the chocolate market experienced significant growth in the country. Initially regarded as a luxury item reserved for special events, chocolate gradually transitioned into a staple item found in many Chinese households. It’s noteworthy that Chinese consumers had limited exposure to chocolate consumption. It was through the efforts of foreign brands expanding their presence in China that chocolate became more accessible and widespread.
While global chocolate giants such as Mars Group, Nestlé, and Ferrero have already made significant strides in penetrating the Chinese chocolate market, it remains largely untapped, offering ample opportunities for new brands to carve out their share of the market.
It’s worth noting that Chinese consumers are still adapting to chocolate consumption habits. They tend to favor incorporating chocolate into other products rather than consuming it on its own. 

Popular Western Chocolate Brands in China

The chocolate market in China is primarily influenced by cocoa and dark chocolate, reflecting a growing health-conscious trend among the Chinese population. According to the data, cocoa bean consumption reached 64,127.70 tons in 2022, with a compound annual growth rate of 6.60% in terms of volume.
The mass distribution chocolate market in China is currently dominated by: Mars, Ferrero, Cadbury.
Capturing 40% of the market share, the american chocolate brand Mars stands as the leading player in China’s chocolate market. Boasting a wide array of products that have gained immense popularity among Chinese consumers over the past few decades.
Holding 28% of the market share, Ferrero, one of the most famous Italian chocolate brands, is another major contender in the Chinese chocolate market.
Cadbury, on the other hand, is a British chocolate brand considered another prominent presence in the market.

China’s Chocolate Market: Consumption

It’s crucial to note that foreign chocolate brands currently occupy up to 70% of the Chinese chocolate market share. This underscores the immense potential that the Chinese chocolate market holds for international companies. Particularly as Western confections and other products continue to gain popularity among Chinese consumers, particularly in urban centers like Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Beijing. The remaining 30% of the Chinese chocolate market is comprised of local brands such as Leconte, a Chinese chocolate brand.
Despite the abundance of business opportunities for foreign brands in the Chinese chocolate market, chocolate consumption is predominantly concentrated in major cities like Shanghai. This is because, in big cities, consumers are more accustomed to Western products and adhere to international standards.

China’s Chocolate Market: Chinese Holidays

Traditional holidays and events hold significant importance in China, particularly in terms of sales. These occasions serve as moments for people to come together and indulge in homemade delicacies or dine out at restaurants. Additionally, they seek out luxury items to purchase as gifts.
For instance, during the Mid-Autumn Festival, an annual event in October, it is customary to exchange and enjoy mooncakes. While many Chinese consumers still prefer the traditional versions of these cakes, numerous foreign and Chinese chocolate manufacturers, such as Godiva, have introduced their own chocolate variations of mooncakes. This innovation attracts curious consumers, particularly the younger generation, who are already accustomed to various chocolates and Western sweets.
However, the most opportune day for chocolate sales is Valentine’s Day, when individuals in first-tier cities often exchange chocolate boxes along with flowers as tokens of affection.

Godiva Chocolate MoonCake, source: Valiram Group

Chocolate stands as the foremost favorite sweet indulgence worldwide, with a projected global industry reaching $160.9 billion by 2027. Despite lagging behind the U.S. and Switzerland in chocolate consumption, China has experienced a notable surge in demand in recent years, positioning itself as a highly promising market within the country, particularly for international chocolate companies.

Long Advisory digital marketing agency in China

Long Advisory supports Western companies in China through digital marketing. In fact, our experience has led us to believe that today, the best and most convenient approach to making your brand well-known in China is through a digital approach. Furthermore, thanks to our know-how, we know how to make your brand known to potential Chinese consumers. With the effective coordination of Long Advisory, your company will see a new rise in the largest market in the world: China.

Long Advisory is a digital marketing agency specializing in developing digital marketing solutions tailored for the Chinese market. 

Interested in expanding your brand in China? Contact us for more info and details at info@longadvisory.eu

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