Chocolates are money-making for local entrepreneurs with popularity of home-made chocolates growing by the day, says Serilda Coutinho
Local chocolate artisans in the state are thriving on the bulk corporate and hamper orders for the forthcoming Christmas season. Taping on the demand, homemakers as well as young entrepreneurs have jumped on the bandwagon of customized chocolates making it a part-time business venture.
“Mass brands are high on sugar content and lack customization, the current preference is for home-made chocolates as customers have the option to choose from a variety of flavors and unique packaging,” says a café owner in Arpora who makes chocolates on order basis.
Differentiating themselves from the mass chocolate brands and making an attempt to replace the traditional festive sweets, local chocolatiers have started experimenting with flavors like paan, chilly,gulkan, nutella and seasonal fruit puree to create a signature recipe of their own .
With exchanging of sweets between neighbors and friends a trend during Christmas and New Year, the demand for chocolates is high in the state. Most chocolate makers are women running home enterprises. They say that, they have started taking orders for hampers, chocolate bouquets, liquor chocolates, chocolate bars and fortune cookies for the ongoing season.
“During this month it is not only the Catholics who opt for chocolates as a gifting option but also other communities that keep up with the trend of year-end gifting. So we have to plan our menu accordingly and introduce flavors that will attract any chocolate lover” says Puja Mapxencar, Chocolatelab.co, Vasco, who joined hands with her buddy Anjali Malhotra to fulfill her passion of making chocolates.
Similarly Arti Nagvekar, owner, Artisan Chocolates, Gogol, clubs her chocolates with a bottle of wine, cake and cookies to make a gift hamper that retails for around Rs 1000. “We also invest in buying new moulds and update our self with new recipes depending on the customers’ requests as they are already aware of the latest trend online and know what to demand” says Nagvekar.
The price for a kilogram of homemade chocolate varies depending upon the filling, kind of chocolate used and the design the customer chooses. For one kg of customized chocolate customers can expect to spend nothing less than Rs 600 to Rs 1800, in peak season.
“Nut based and imported fruit based fillings increase the cost but customers are willing to shell out extra for special occasions” explains an entrepreneur in Panjim. While Mapxencar reveals that, usage of glitter hikes up the price of the chocolates by around Rs 150 per kg. “We have to keep the flavors simple without any filling as the glitter itself is costly and we want to make it economical for our customers in the existing price” says Mapxencar.
Thanks to the robust response from a loyal customer base, chocolate artisans expect a 40 to 50 per-cent growth in sales during the ongoing festive season. “We earn a profit of around Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 during this month that is double when compared to the rest of the months” says Shreya Prameet Phaldessai, owner, Chocolate Home Goa, a FDA certified home-crafted chocolate brand based in Aquem. As the demand spikes up for home-made chocolates the competition is also heated up in the space.
“The chocolate making business in the state thrives only on seasonal orders unlike the metros that enjoy a year round demand,” explains Judy D’costa, owner, Classique Chocolates, Parra. Having crafted edible chocolate decorations from the past 23 years, she points out that suppliers of chocolate compound and cocoa beans have now increased in the market and imported ingredients can also be easily sourced which was much difficult earlier.
Meanwhile chocolate makers have got smart in understanding the customer’s requirement. Phaldessai says that, she has edible photograph chocolates and customized packaging for the festive season. “We put up exhibitions for companies, malls and at pop-up bazaars during Christmas. But we have to limit it to only one exhibition per festival as exhibitions are time consuming,” she reveals.
With a handful of local suppliers for raw material like chocolate compound and fruit compote, most chocolatiers prefer to source from Bangalore, Pune or Mumbai. “I source my ingredients well in advance to cater to the last minute rush that is sure to come in during this month” says Phaldessai.
Social media is helping local chocolate artists to increase the business. They take orders on WhatsApp and on social platforms like Facebook and Instagram. “We have a photo shoot of our chocolates prior to the festival which is posted on FB and Insta to update our customers” says Pradnya Verekar, chocolatier, Dewdrops, Ponda.
Check reveals that, local entrepreneurs in the chocolate making business prefer the online medium to showcase their ware over setting up a store as it is cost effective. “While it is costly to rent out a space for a store the return investment from chocolates is very low that makes it pointless to dedicate a store only for chocolates. Also the shelf-life of these products is about two- three months that makes it difficult to stock them up if left unsold” reveals Mapxencar.
Apart from experimenting with flavors chocolate artisans have now also started stocking up on attractive packaging with Santa and floral prints as the latest lure. Customers are offered a complete gift package of chocolates that looks yummy enough to eat.