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Are there still opportunities to tap in the chocolate industry?

Like most industries there are a lot of people in the chocolate industry - some huge, others teeny weeny. The chocolate industry is pretty much a saturated market when you look at it. It's a tough market and one which is only likely to get even more challenging but I believe where there's a challenging market always is usually a gap, an opportunity. It's about getting the right idea, sufficient funding and potent team to tap the gap and ride the wave.

When I launched my first chocolate bar there were very few around in the premium space, little innovation in the area of recipes and pretty much all to play for. Well for a year or so before all of a sudden everyone was into producing premium bars and the competition fully fledged. With though so few in the chocolate bar arena there was an education challenge we were confronted with. How to get the consumer to understand their spend was not supporting a luxury lifestyle but trying to maintain a sustainable business and make sure all in the supply chain were paid fairly. I was constantly asked 'How much' when I was doing shop floor tastings. Once I explained the quality et al I usually converted the cynical punter into a loyal customers.

I'm not sure if there are opportunities for new chocolate companies to launch with the same style products (chocolate bars, truffles et al) unless they really are different. I do believe though that small artisan chocolatiers and chocolate makers who keep their costs low and build a strong loyal local customer base will always have opportunities.

Where do I see opportunities within the industry?

My Concept

Well only my inner sanctum know the top secret but I will share a little with you! The thing is that once chocolate seeps into your DNA it tends to remain there. It may ebb and flow as to how much at any time but it's there, ever present even after closing a business in it. To the point that every waking moment you are thinking (consciously or subconsciously) about where can you carve a niche, how can you fill that niche and who will back you.

The concept I'm conjuring up is one which I crave and unable find in the way I want it. I can see it. I can taste it. I can shut my eyes and get a pop of sparkle from it. (All of these elements drove me to create Amelia Rope Chocolate). One secret I will share with you is that it won't be centred around producing chocolates and chocolate bars or selling them in retail outlets. I've been there, done it and not planning to revisit unless I had a major carrot dangled in front of me! But never say never! You may though find my recipes used along the way ... somehow.

Other - Food Tech

There is a movement to 'non-chocolate' chocolate which I struggle with in a way but also fully get on board with to as innovation is what we need. Did you ever taste the carob versions of chocolate which were around decades ago? I don't think it every really took off and the taste definitely wasn't there - maybe it was ahead of it's game BUT now it's becoming a player. Ahrum Pak and Dr Johnny Drain are the founders of WNWM and have produced cacao-free products using carob and barley. I'm still yet to taste it but looking forward to doing so. Nukoko are using fava beans. I will chat more about cacao free chocolate in another post.

So ...

Do opportunities to enter it still exist? If so where do you perceive these opportunities to be? Are there still gaps for the more traditional chocolatiers, chocolate makers offering chocolates, chocolate bars, drinking chocolate and ice-cream or does it need to be more avant-garde and thinking a bit more outside the box?

Insights from chocolate movers and shakers - Angus Thirlwell and Amarachi Clarke

In the meantime to hear some pearls of wisdom around setting up a chocolate business (one huge, the other artisan) do listen to the episodes from my podcast, Hope and Patience, on the links below. Both Angus Thirlwell (Co-Founder of Hotel Chocolate) and Amarachi Clarke (Founder of award-winning bean to bar Lucocoa) share valuable insights into what it takes as well how they ended up founding chocolate businesses.

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