HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE
A PERSPECTIVE ON THE GLOBAL AND LOCAL CHOCOLATE MARKET
Ever since the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés introduced the drink “chocoatl” from Mexico to Europe in 1519, Europeans have been the main consumers, producers, developers and proponents of all things chocolate. Since then, chocolate has become one of the most active ingredients to shape European palates and cuisine.
Even 500 years later, Europe and North America account for nearly three quarters of total World consumption, with Europe alone consuming nearly 50% of all chocolate production. Through much of its history, chocolate has been a “foreign” and largely unattainable luxury item in much of the remaining world. But this trend has finally changed course.
The history of chocolate in Turkey is relatively recent and more or less coincides with the foundation of the modern Turkish Republic in 1923. The founder of the Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, granted the country’s first local chocolate manufacturer, Lion Melba, a 10-year tax exemption in order to incentivise local chocolate production. Lion Melba’s chocolate factory was set up in Istanbul and operated for a couple of decades before breaking up into different companies. Interestingly, ethnic Greeks from Istanbul or other parts of the Ottoman Empire were among the first to adopt the craft of chocolate making and European-style pastry baking both during the late Ottoman and the early Republican eras. Next to Lion Melba, other chocolatiers creating famous local brands included Giorgos Eleftheropoulos (“Elit”), Melopoulos (“Golden”), Ethnopoulos (“Royal”), Mihal Payotis (“Mabel”) and Filip Lenas (“Baylan”). Confiserie Leonidas SA, the Belgian chocolate producer that today has a large international presence of 1400 retail outlets across the world, was also founded by a former citizen of Istanbul, Leonidas Kestekides, who emigrated to America in the early 1900s and later settled in Belgium.
IRRESISTIBLE, DELECTABLE CHOCOLATE, NOW EVERYWHERE
In recent years, both chocolate love and chocolate sales have sky-rocketed throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa and countries of the former Soviet bloc. This dramatic shift in the traditionally “European-centric” chocolate market is now regarded as the single biggest volume growth opportunity in the global chocolate industry.
Globalisation of production technologies and management processes has helped reduce costs and improved quality. This, in conjunction with effective marketing and distribution, has proven that wherever quality chocolate is made readily available at affordable prices, it will enjoy the same enthusiastic following everywhere. And while absolute consumption volumes still trail far behind European and North American levels, chocolate and chocolate products are on a double-digit growth trend across most of these new chocolate markets.
The first mention in historical records of chocolate on Turkish soil belongs to the seventeenth century Italian adventurer and traveller Giovanni Francesco Gemelli Careri (1651-1725) who is reported to have offered a chocolate drink to a Turkish Aga at Smyrna (İzmir) in December 1693.
TURKEY: AN EXCITING “NEW” MARKET WITH A DIFFERENCE
Turkey’s large, young population, its strong economic growth, rising average incomes, and an increasingly sophisticated production, logistics and retail environment have attracted the world’s leading global chocolate brands to this country. The overall market has been growing at a henomenal pace in the past ten years, nearly doubling in the 2004-2009 period. All of this makes Turkey in and of itself an attractive “new” market. But there is more.
Turkey’s proximity to Central Europe, the Middle East and North Africa as well as to Russia and the Turkic Republics puts the country literally “right in the middle” of many of the developing chocolate markets, and several global manufacturers view Turkey as a convenient spring board for their wider regional marketing and sales efforts.
Turkey is one of the fastest growing chocolate markets worldwide with new brands and products introduced into shops and shelves almost every day. Turks are known for their hospitality and chocolate has become a favourite gift and hospitality item. Even traditional confectionary such as the famous lokum or “Turkish Delight” is now often enrobed in a fine layer of chocolate. Special occasions and festivities, religious holidays, Mother’s Day, St. Valentine’s Day and New Year represent the greatest peaks in consumption where chocolate sales more than triple. Despite the fact that low-cost chocolates are still prevalent in the market, consumers have discovered the taste of fine chocolate and decided they like it – as evidenced by the phenomenal growth figures registered by some brands in recent years. There’s now also a blossoming market for premium chocolates with branded origin chocolates on offer in large supermarkets and an increasing number of premium chocolatiers selling fine hand-made pralines and truffles in specialty shops in the metropolitan centres of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. There’s also been a tremendous proliferation in chocolate bakery, pastry, desserts and ice cream products where brands large and small are witnessing a boom in both fresh and packaged products.
FOCUSING RESOURCES WHERE THEY MATTER MOST
As in many other industries, competitive pressures are making product and brand differentiation increasingly more difficult, and increasingly more costly. It is no surprise therefore that chocolate manufacturers are seeking to concentrate their resources where they matter most, i.e. in product innovation and marketing.
Global players are increasingly outsourcing the manufacturing task in order to fully concentrate on building and strengthening their consumer brands, on designing and implementing effective marketing strategies and on developing innovative, attractive new products. At Detay, we offer trustworthy, reliable oursouring capabilities that help our clients achieve greater efficiencies and reduce costs while maintaining or indeed improving their products’ manufacturing quality.