The Great Cocoa Comeback!
US chocolate sales were $ 20.1billion last year and are expected to rise by 4% this year.
When Christopher Columbus landed in Nicaragua on 1502 he was the first European to discover that seeds could be currency. Indeed cocoa beans were being used by the locals as currency, and to make a drink. Years later Hernan Cortez while conquering Mexico, saw in the beans the promise of a new worldwide currency exchange. Should the world adopt the beans as currency, growers would own money trees!! He had the vision of converting these beans to golden doubloons. Accordingly, Cortez established a cocoa plantation in the name of Spain.
A very profitable business was then born. By then news of the aphrodisiac proprieties of cocoa had spread in Europe through Spain. Cocoa became the wedding gift of the powerful. Ann of Austria, daughter of Philip II from Spain, introduced the beverage to her new husband, Louis the XIII, and his French court. By 1643 France became yet a another enthusiastic cocoa market. Spanish Princess Maria Theresa gave chocolate as engagement present to her fiancée Louis XIV of France. The Sun King went mad about chocolate and gave David Illou the monopoly of chocolate manufacturing in France.
The scarcity value of the commodity send demand trough the roofs. The chocolate craze continued in Europe taking aim at Belgium; the Netherlands; Switzerland and Germany. The US fondness for chocolate began early. By the 18th century Benjamin Franklin provided the patriotic armies with chocolate tablets to feed the soldiers.
After independence demand for chocolate began an ever growing path that remains to our days. An important boost to chocolate consumption was given by Daniel Peter’s invention of the chocolate tablet in 1876 in Switzwerland. The USA embraced this cocoa byproduct with enthusiasm becoming its leading world consumption destination. Today the US and Germany consume over 50% of world cocoa production (see attached table).
And while world cocoa trade accounts for 4.8 million metric tons today which represent $ 14,400,000,000 in earnings for growers, US chocolate sales were $ 20.1billion last year and are expected to rise by 4% this year. Fastest growing segments of chocolate market are gourmet chocolate factories that mix old recipes with new flavors and spirits pairings to render an extraordinary experience to high end consumers. These delicate chocolate products represent today a market of US 200M worldwide with signs of demand pressure arising from growing middle income families in Asia particularly in China.
Rising Chocolate gourmet shops in the Americas are Cocoa Art in Miami and QueBo! In Mexico. Both boutiques manufacture chocolates for every occasion mixing cocoa with ananas; kiwi; pomegranates and other fruits and spices to create brand new flavors that are briskly demanded by Millennials everywhere.
Both boutiques have expansion plans in Mexico and the US. They represent a very ingenious comeback for a products that has always catered to the taste of world leaders.