June 12, 2021

The Dark Chocolate Phenomenon

The best way to savor a bar of bar chocolate is to take a piece and stick it to the roof of the mouth and let it melt. The more sweetened chocolates will melt faster, revealing their flavors quickly. In contrast, the ones with more cocoa reveal their flavors slower. It's hard to persevere and not chew it away. But patience is the virtue! So much for a piece of chocolate?

Chocolate making is quite a complex process of flavor extraction that starts immediately after the beans are harvested. The untreated beans are astringent and bitter; after fermentation, they develop fruity, wine-like flavors. Drying and roasting the fermented beans (similar to coffee) can introduce various flavors such as nutty, flowery, woody, and spicy. The complexity increases when the beans are ground, mixed with cocoa butter, sugar, and tempered. With so many degrees of freedom in chocolate making, it is possible to carve small niches in the market and build a strong brand identity. Here are some of the trends we notice in the market

  • Tree-to-bar chocolate brands manage cocoa estates and control the entire value chain. The profound control allows brands to bring many experimental flavors to the consumer. The estates of most tree-to-bar brands are in India, and the Indian cocoa still too young to compete with Africa.
  • Bean-to-bar chocolate brands start with the bean and build on the base flavors. These brands procure beans from across the world, which makes their chocolates interesting.
  • Artisanal chocolate brands might start with beans or made chocolates and then work on building flavors through tempering and additives such as spices, fruits, flowers, and so on.
  • Functional chocolate brands develop products for consumers with lifestyle conditions such as diabetes.

It is inspiring to see the passion with which the founders build their brands; also, the subtleties differentiate them from one another. While we have new insurgent chocolate brands, one incumbent making significant moves in the dark chocolate space is Amul. The incumbent has both a great collection of chocolates and also a formidable distribution. For the insurgent, the critical differentiator is the product and philosophy, good. Still, the sooner they get distribution, the better for their growth.

So what led to the dark chocolate boom? Many things such as travel, exposure to new cuisines, evolved palate, and social media. More importantly, the perception that dark chocolates are healthier is also one of the main drivers for the uptake. So, a lot of positive sentiment for dark chocolates. Go for a bar of dark chocolate the next time you want to try one; IBH has a good collection of brands.

Insurgent Brand Hunt

IBH is an attempt to share a repository of growing brands and also provide fellow consumers with a platform to share their favourite brands with the world. IBH is also intended to be a community of consumers to share more about brands resonate with them. Hence the "hunt".

Suggestions and comments are welcome, please write to insurgentbrandnews@gmail.com.

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