Cover Bon bons with gold flakes (Photo: Benns Ethicoa)

Chew on these sweet facts about chocolate consumption in Southeast Asia, just in time for Valentine's Day 2021

By comparing and cataloguing billions of search interests between October 2019 and November 2020, iPrice Group, a meta-search website operating in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam and Hong Kong, unearthed interesting findings about Southeast Asian consumer habits, particularly in the realm of chocolates.

See also: The Best Pineapple Tarts, Chinese New Year Cookies, Ice Cream And More

Southeast Asians seek solace in chocolates during Covid-19

Under normal circumstances, interest in chocolate rises and falls in accordance with public holidays. For instance, chocolate receives heightened attention every February and March (fresh off Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year) before losing its audience around April. Come Halloween and Christmas, however, sales soar again.

2020 saw a break from the usual pattern in that chocolate was still a hot topic well into April; note that this was just as the pandemic was starting to sink its talons into the world. Furthermore, Google searches for chocolate during Halloween and Christmas 2020 were respectively 89 and 91 per cent higher than the previous year.

As a whole, 2020 saw a significant surge—74 per cent—in Southeast Asia's  obsession with chocolate. 

See also: The Best Fudgy Brownies In The Klang Valley


Malaysians have the biggest sweet tooth in SEA

It seems that Malaysians—specifically, 21.8 per cent of the country's visitors to—are more likely to gratify their sweet tooth when their cravings call.

Singaporeans and Filipinos aren't far behind at 19.3 per cent and 18.8 per cent, respectively.

These numbers tower above those of other countries in Southeast Asia. Even Thailand, which comes in fourth, only records 7.1 per cent of chocolate fans among its population. Despite Malaysia and Indonesia's similarities in national cuisine, only 3.8 per cent of Indonesians search for chocolates online.

Watch: How Ong Ning-Geng Has Carved A Name For Single-Origin Malaysian Chocolate

Southeast Asians are still smitten with Western chocolates

Albeit boasting an abundance of quality cacao, Southeast Asia is still smitten with renowned chocolate brands from the West; think Cadbury, Ferrero Rocher, Kit Kat and Hershey's.

Save for Indonesians, who can't get enough of local brands such as Choki Choki, Southeast Asians aren't shopping locally just yet, which seems a shame, especially when an increasing number of chocolatiers are coming out of the region.

A good example is Auro Chocolate, which swept up seven recognitions at the Great Taste Awards and was covered by Philippines Tatler. Many have also heard of Maison Marou in Vietnam and make it a point to stop by their famous chocolate café when visiting Ho Chi Minh. Hong Kong too, has a local representative in Hakawa Chocolate, while artisanal brand Anjali Chocolat does Singapore proud. Meanwhile, Malaysia has seen an explosion of independent chocolatiers, from Chocolate Concierge to Benns Ethioca, in the past decade.

View iPrice Group's official study.

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