There is a growing appetite for premium chocolate on home turf. We no longer have to wait for our cousins abroad to lug in the Godivas and Guylains, with easy availability of gourmet bars in India. The desi consumption of chocolates is on a high now, with a dizzying rush of hand-painted bonbons, cocoa nibs, toasted coconut truffles, mosaic bars, peanut butter cups, rose caramels, pecan nibbles, mocha almond dipped in milk chocolate with caramelised macadamia, noir biscuits, tiny cocoa kisses gilded in metallic dust for that extra sparkle… jostling for attention. Chocolate sellers are raking it in.
Karan Ahuja, Co-founder, Coco Cart & Coco Café, says the force behind the sweet stocks of chocolates and super deals on economy packs at those glitzy DutyFree shops, introduced Coco Cart during the pandemic as negligible travel meant lesser footfalls at the airports. Storage posed a challenge and the logical way out was setting up choc marts across the country.
Hence, was born Coco Cart, the ‘child of the quarantine’. “There’s over 35 stores, seven cafes, more than 400 employees and more than 40 brands, all under one roof, as of now,” says Ahuja, on a tigerish mission to satisfy the country’s chocolate craving. “For us, our growth rate is over a mere metric. With many new avenues launching in the near future, we expect to triple in size over the next two years. It shows us the hard work our team puts behind delivering melt-free to every Pincode in India.
We have positively grown by 10x this financial year—the multiple is across our omnichannel markets.” With cleverly arranged sections for the rush of chocolates from New Zealand, Switzerland… the groves are studded with Whittaker’s, Godiva, Neuhaus, Loacker, Kinder, Lindt, Mars, Hershey’s, Milka, Chocodates, Wedel, Valrhona…with even FitSpo whey protein bars and flapjacks netting the goal watchers.
The choc mart in India grew throughout the pandemic, ushering an upward trend. With palm oil infusions being fobbed off by consumers, the demand for pure chocolate has grown further. The definition of premium chocolate has changed. From an aspirational treat to an everyday indulgence, the brown gold is now working as a luxe mood enhancer too. Hand-crafted or branded. “Chocolate reigned as a delectable symbol of wealth and luxury back in the day but has now become a part of casual snacking due to our evolved lifestyle patterns,” says Karan.
Shilpi Madan for Sunday Standard