Can Prince Charles use chocolate to effectively combat deforestation? Picture: ISTOCK
Can Prince Charles use chocolate to effectively combat deforestation? Picture: ISTOCK

Moscow — Russia’s fast-growing appetite for chocolate is helping to boost global cocoa demand, according to Barry Callebaut.

Chocolate consumption in the world’s second-biggest market for the confectionery expanded by almost four times the global rate in the nine months to the end of April, the Zurich-based processor said. That comes as robust demand is expected to push the cocoa market move into a slight deficit after two years of oversupply.

While Russia has long been the number two chocolate market after the US, demand started to pick up in 2017 after the rouble stabilised. That stopped the increase in retail prices and allowed consumers to resume buying more expensive foods or treats, said Elizaveta Nikitina, executive director of the Confectionery Market Research Center in Moscow.

“We expect the chocolate market to continue to grow in Russia,” Massimo Garavaglia, Barry Callebaut’s president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said in an interview. “This is definitely increasing the demand for cocoa beans in the world.”

In Russia, much like the rest of the world, producers are expanding the use of chocolate flavour in pastry, ice cream and dairy products, Garavaglia said. In a bid to make chocolate bars more appealing, companies including Nestle are turning to new flavours or gimmicks to attract consumers who are increasingly shunning sugary products for healthier treats.

The cocoa market is now set to tighten, after two years of bumper crops led to global surpluses that kept prices under pressure. The market will probably be in a slight shortage of 50,000 tonnes in the season that just started, according to a Bloomberg survey of traders, brokers, analysts and exporters.

Barry Callebaut, the world’s biggest chocolate maker, said on Thursday that  said it agreed to buy Moscow-based Inforum to expand in the Russian market. Chocolate consumption in the country rose 9.2% in the nine months through April, compared with a global increase of 2.5%, Barry Callebaut said, citing data from researcher Nielsen.