In India, Cadbury chocolate is a beloved household name. The New York Times has a great article this week by Priya Krishna that goes in depth on the subject.
Chocolate was originally imported to India via the British during colonization, and is now a daily habit for one in five Indians, according to a 2019 report by market research company Mintel. Nielsen reported in 2019 that two-thirds of those sales belonged to Cadbury. That’s a lot of chocolate, and the brand loyalty runs deep.
The chocolate business picks up even more around Diwali, the festival of lights, which falls on November 14 this year. Chocolate is a common gift for Diwali, surpassing traditional Indian sweets. But after so many decades of Cadbury being the most beloved and quintessential chocolate brand of India, small Indian chocolate businesses are looking to change this by making their own delicious products—ones that will not only compete with Cadbury, but introduce more Indians to the delights of dark chocolate and support ethical bean-to-bar business practices.
Take Dwaar Chocolate, located in East Township, Michigan, for example. Owner Rajani Konkipudi brings in chocolate beans from family-owned farms in India and Ecuador and combines them with cardamom and pistachio to create a bar meant to echo pistachio kulfi. She aims to show the Indian diaspora population that there’s more chocolate to be appreciated aside from the kind produced by a major corporation.
Alak Vasa of Elements Truffles in Union City, New Jersey, founded the company to stress the health benefits of dark chocolate over the overly sweet, milk-heavy Cadbury style of chocolate. Her beans are grown in Ecuador via fair compensation, but the $7 price tag on the chocolate shocked her friends and family. In comparison, Cadbury bars in India can cost five rupees, which is less than $0.10 USD. The bitterness of the high-quality chocolate was also new to them, but in order to appeal to her audience and their sense of nostalgia, she infused the product with the familiar flavors of rose and cardamom. It’s never going to be chocolate that comes as cheap as a Cadbury bar, but it can go along way in telling the “story” of Indian flavors and traditions.
Cadbury’s a big competitor, but these newer companies play to a younger audience who aren’t necessarily as invested and loyal to the Cadbury brand. As Diwali approaches, they’re looking to show their audience that a big world of chocolate exists beyond the purple packaging. Read the whole fascinating story here.