Coffee, orange, milk in Ecuador, Peru – how Amul’s “black revolution” changed the chocolate game

Graphic by Manisha Yadav | The imprint

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New Delhi: A visit to any grocery store today to satisfy your chocolate cravings will likely lead you to purchase a certain product. Defined by its dark brown packaging with brightly colored text and taking its name from the parent company of Gujarati origin, the chocolate bar is a sight for many sore eyes.

We are of course talking about Amul chocolate, made by the dairy cooperative which celebrated its 75th anniversary this year. But chocolates didn’t always look like this and they weren’t available in all varieties today; rather, it is the result of an evolution that has taken place over 40 years since Amul began making chocolates.

For over seven decades, there has been a lot of nostalgia in every product. In July, a Twitter message images on Indian history included an image of an Amul chocolate gift box, dating from 1985.

Pyaar ki meethi bhaint (The Sweet Gift of Love) ”reads the tagline on the gift box.

“Oh my God, they were all so good. I ordered them Crunchy> Coffee> Bitter> Orange> Fruits and Nuts> Milk, ”columnist Mihir Sharma said.

Other tweets brought back memories associated with chocolate or receiving a box of goodies.

“I received a tin box full of assorted chocolates for my fifth birthday in 1985. I’m still in love with Amul chocolates but I think they should definitely bring back Coffee and Crisp,” job Twitter user Aninda Sardar.

Another user, Neha Banka noted, “The packaging and taste of Amul chocolates was a whole different thing back then.”

“I remember receiving them as a Rakhi gift from my cousins. Not only that, my grandmother would give them to me every time I visited her because she knew I had a sweet tooth. I have a granddaughter now and I think I would have liked to share this part of my growing years with her, ”Aishna Prakash, 57, told ThePrint.

Prakash, a housewife, also recalled that chocolates were once small squares.

However, despite the strong nostalgia, Amul’s latest branding and taste won over her older customers as well.

For Poonam Rani, 52, also a housewife, the current design is a modern and refreshing take.

“Amul Crisp was one of my favorites. The taste was different from other standard chocolates. Although the old packaging evokes nostalgia, their current minimalist packaging is quite refreshing to the eyes, ”she said.

Rajesh Singh, who is in his 50s and was a Cadbury fan, turned to Amul thanks to his love for dark chocolates.

“My search for 90% dark chocolates and even darker led me to Amul, and I discovered their line of single origin chocolates in addition to the dark chocolate line,” he said.

Read also : Amul turns to Lord Krishna, Goumata to counter PETA and praise India’s cultural ties to milk

21 minutes of chocolate fantasy

In 2018, Amul, well aware of his public appeal, posted a 21-minute video of his chocolate-making process. The video, which featured plenty of visuals of chocolate in all its forms, explained how the end product is made, right from the harvest, roasting and fermentation of cocoa beans from trees in South America, Africa and Asia. .

Last year, during the first Covid-19 lockdown, Amul gathered some of its TV commercials over the years into a series called ‘Amul Classics’.

The series is revealing of how the “White Revolution”, the initiative led by entrepreneur Verghese Kurien that made dairy farming self-sufficient in India, was replicated for mass production of chocolate.

According to a 2018 Commercial standard reports: “For a while, Amul’s chocolate even gave the hugely popular Cadbury’s a hard time. And then, inexplicably, they faded into oblivion, at least as far as the retail market is concerned. Amul supplied most of its chocolates to institutions as raw material for ice cream, including to its own factories.

However, in the 2010s, Amul chocolates made a comeback by mimicking the packaging of foreign brands such as Lindt or Hershey’s, and focusing on flavors, especially dark chocolate. This struck a chord with people again, leading the cooperative to expand its manufacturing in 2016.

According to Amul Managing Director RS Sodhi, the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd (GCMMF) which manufactures Amul products was the only player to have up to 75 percent cocoa content in dark chocolates.

With a view to a “black revolution”, the cooperative planned to launch chocolates with 90% cocoa content, going up to 100%.

“We decided to go for the larger dark chocolate variants because the popular imported chocolates on the market at the time were that size. We knew we could launch an equal or better quality of dark chocolate at a significantly lower price, and we did, ”Sodhi said, according to the Commercial standard report.

Amul’s massive expansion in the 2010s was linked to its promotion of the health benefits of dark chocolate; by making the bitterness of cocoa the selling point, it was the opposite of Amul to the high sugar products offered by competitors.

A 2018 report by The Express Financial noted that Amul had capitalized on consumer preferences for dark chocolate by having “over 25 variations that make up about 85-90% of the company’s chocolate portfolio.”

GCMMF (Planning and Marketing) Senior General Manager Jayen Mehta said L’Express Financier that “total sales [of Amul chocolates in 2018] through e-commerce channels crossed Rs 50 lakh from around Rs 2 lakh in January [2018]”.

Amul’s bet seems to have paid off, with the product just as ubiquitous today as it was in the 1970s and 1980s.

(Edited by Manasa Mohan)

Read also : Indian cooperatives need the Amul model more than a cooperation ministry

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