Shoppers look through the chocolate aisle of Saleways Department Store in Pulchowk, Lalitpur. Photo: Ayam Shrestha/Republica
KATHMANDU, Feb 8: Tejashwi Shrestha, 7, came for grocery shopping with her parents at the Tripureshwar branch of Bhat-Bhateni Supermarket Wednesday afternoon. She briskly walked across the supermarket floor, but her feet stopped as she entered the aisle for candies and chocolates, and asked her mother to get her sweets. Among the plethora of chocolates in the store, those that the seven-year-old preferred were Kinder Joy, Gems and Dairy Milk, all imported chocolate brands.
This is not the story of Tejashwi only. Children and adults alike treat themselves and their near ones with expensive imported chocolates available easily at groceries and supermarkets. Data provided by the Department of Customs (DoC) shows that more than 4.54 kilograms of chocolates of different varieties worth Rs 1.28 billion were imported in the country in the first half of Fiscal Year 2017/18. In the same period of FY2016/17, the county had imported nearly 5.1 million kilograms of chocolates worth Rs 1.47 billion.
Sushil Prasad Sharma, a section officer at the DoC, said that the data shows a slight fall in import of chocolates this year as compared to last year. Although this could be due to various reasons, a study of data shows that import of cheaper chocolates is on the rise.
In the first half of FY2015/16, the country imported 3.1 million kilograms of chocolates worth Rs 1.21 billion. This means the average cost of a kilogram of chocolate was Rs 394.14. The same for FY 2016/17 and FY 2017/18 was Rs 289.99 and Rs 281.29, respectively.
According to traders, milk chocolates are the most sought-after chocolate bar among Kathmandu dwellers. Speaking with Republica, Niva Tandukar of Niva Family Store in Lalitpur explained: “Milk chocolates such as Dairy Milk and Nestle Bar remains are high demand. Different variations of Dairy Milk such as Silk, Fruit & Nuts, and Caramel etc are popular as gifting items.”
Similarly, next in the list is bar chocolates with different fillings such as caramel, nuts and coconuts like Mars, Snickers, Five Star, and Bounty along with wafer bars like Twix and Kit-Kat, according to Tandukar. Similarly, traders also claim that dark chocolates such as the different variants of Bournville and the Swiss brand Lindt are also popular in Nepal.
“There has been a surge in demand for dark chocolate with more concentration of coca. Although not preferred by children, adults prefer dark chocolates despite the higher price tag due to low sugar content,” Sabin Byanjankar, branch manager of Bhatbhateni Supermarket, Tripureshwar, said.
Seconding Byanjankar's claim, Rabindra Maharjan, who had been skimming through the chocolate section of Saleways Department Store, Pulchowk, said: “While visiting foreign countries, I used to get dark Swiss chocolates for myself and for my near ones. Now, I can purchase them in Nepal itself. It is something I regularly gift to my near ones.”
Byanjankar told Republica that the demand for Nepali chocolates is no less. “Wafer chocolates such as Choco-Fun and candies like Candy Man, Rasilo, Eclairs, Love Birds and Kacho Mango are available in the market and in our store. The demand for these chocolates can be termed satisfactory given the low or non-existent advertisements,” he added.
These chocolates are produced by Sujal Foods Pvt Ltd, Pokhara which previously used to produce the popular childhood candy of many - Orange Ball and Black Ball.