Chocolate is one of the most popular desserts worldwide, as shown by its ever-growing market. Global economic
progress has allowed more people to have additional disposable income, so demand for luxuries like chocolate is on
the rise. Case in point, projections from Fortune Business Insights on the chocolate industry in Southeast Asia (SEA)
estimates a USD 2.87 million jump in sales from 2019 to 2027.
Part of this demand is due to consumers becoming more aware of their food sources, and are willing to spend extra
on locally-sourced products to support sustainable action. Chocolate is no exception, with companies producing
single-origin goods that also cater to regional tastes through different approaches; some even adopt their country's
cuisine for a new spin on chocolate. These trends have given rise to skilled chocolatiers in SEA, who not only keep
the industry flourishing through their creativity but also give a boost to the local economy. Read on to know about the
specific SEA countries and how their chocolate adapts to the local scene:
Tatler Asia’s article on SEA chocolate consumption identifies Malaysia as the biggest consumer of chocolate in the
region, with 21.8% of its country’s web visitors searching for chocolate online. When it comes to Malaysian food, one
of its biggest strengths comes from the country’s multi-ethnic makeup. With this in mind and the Malaysians’
preference for sweeter desserts, brands like Jugèlìk Artisanal allow consumers to customize their chocolate using
tropical fruits such as pineapple, rambutan, and jackfruit, allowing them to provide flavors for a wider variety of
As the third-largest cacao producer in the world, it comes as no surprise that businesses in Indonesia have sprouted
to take advantage of its massive bounty. Much of Indonesia's cuisine revolves around the use of spices in making
dishes that have complex levels of flavors: savory, spicy, and bitter. This is why our Krakatoa bar inspired by
Indonesia features lemongrass and cracked black pepper, which enhances the 63% bittersweet chocolate base so it
can cater to local tastes.
Filipinos have a complex palate, often enjoying a combination of sweet, sour, and salty profiles in their cuisine. This
unique take on food may be why, as local food writer Jonah de Jesus points out, Filipino food is often considered an
underdog among internationally-acclaimed cuisines. In recent years, it’s been gaining traction as more people are
exposed to the wide variety of culinary traditions from more than 80 ethnolinguistic groups across the archipelago.
The Philippines does not shy away from the chocolate culture, with Davao City at the epicenter of its production.
Local brands Auro and Theo & Philo source their cocoa beans from Davao and even infuse beloved flavors such as
mango and local banana dessert turon into their bars to elevate the taste of chocolate.
Although Vietnam’s chocolate market isn’t as big as the aforementioned countries, artisans have taken on the
challenge to cater to the Vietnamese taste. Many Vietnamese prefer sweeter fruits like guava or pomelo, which can
make it difficult to sell craft dark chocolate. To combat this, the Vietnamese-based chocolate brand Marou markets
themselves through unique ways like pop-up patisseries and farm tours. This allows them to showcase how their
products can match the local preference for sweeter, milder chocolate.
It is undeniable that the growing popularity of chocolate in SEA has allowed chocolate manufacturers to thrive. At the
hands of these experts, this feel-good treat can take on different forms using local flavors and ingredients, elevating it
from the usual chocolate bar. Although these businesses have yet to achieve the production and distribution
capabilities of larger chocolate companies, continued support gives them the opportunities to grow and improve their
house of flavors.