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Exotic Chocolates

Adding an Asian Flavor to Chocolate

Western chocolatiers looking to grow business in China and India are experimenting with ingredients such as red beans and green tea

By Jennifer Fishbein

With the European and U.S. chocolate markets pretty well saturated, big-name chocolate producers from both regions are looking for growth from China and India, two countries not known for their love of the stuff.

Luckily for chocolate companies, increasingly wealthy and well-traveled Chinese and Indians are clamoring for Western products, and many now see chocolate as a luxurious, exotic indulgence. To boost sales, Western producers are latching onto the growing popularity of Western holidays such as Valentine's Day—when this Chinese couple posed in 2005 in front of a chocolate-covered Volkswagen.

Efforts to appeal to different tastes in sweets have prompted multinational chocolatiers to experiment with ingredients that might not fly in their home markets: ginseng, dates, red beans, and green tea, for example. One company even added chocolate to cheese—a double-yuck in East Asia—and surprisingly, the combination was a hit from Taiwan to Thailand. Click on for a glimpse of more chocolate flavors around the world: