This is opening up new opportunities for foreign chocolatiers. Belgian chocolate-maker, Godiva, said it planned to have 50 stores in China by the end of 2013, up from 36 the year before. While French chocolatier, DeNeuville, is bringing classic cocoa butter chocolates to the Chinese capital.
"We are - if I’m not wrong - we are the first official, real French chocolate brand in Beijing, not to mention China. We wanted to go somewhere different, to test the ground. And I hope our shop will open more shops around China and also Hong Kong." Roland Ngoc Wu, managing director of De Neuville Chocolat Francais, said.
But developing China’s chocolate market isn’t easy.
"It will take a few years. Not one year, not two years, but many years of hard work. For example, one of the difficulties we have experienced so far is in pacakaging. In France, chocolate is a daily good for eating - but here it’s a gift. So when we came to China, we had to adapt, because people like the larger box, with grand design." Wu said.
Another challenge is rising costs. With growing demand from emerging markets like China - and lower cocoa harvests in Africa - cocoa prices are steadily climbing.
"It’s a big concern, because at the moment prices are going up on average more than 10 percent ever year, soon will be double that rate. But we try to keep it as stable as possible at the retail level. Yes the price increases, but we try to save on other things." Wu said.
With Chinese New Year around the corner many families will share treats and feasts, giving chocolate sales another boost.