Chocolate Culture in Singapore

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Trends in Singapore tend to emerge and spread quickly, particularly in the culinary business. Past examples include specialized coffee, black sugar, and anything salted egg. Each of these products has had its day in the limelight, and most have left a lasting legacy still open for business in one part or another of the city-state. Coffee, in particular, piques my curiosity here.

This is because the third-wave coffee trend that swept Singapore cleared the path for a comparable product: handmade chocolate. Although the artisan chocolate movement in Singapore is still in its infancy, it is difficult to deny that it is finally having a moment. During my week in Singapore, I observed numerous up-and-coming chocolate stores, both in person and online.

Singaporean chocolate culture has proven to be as difficult to identify as most other aspects of the nation; it is continuously in motion. Since interest in excellent chocolate is still relatively new there, the popular bars are always changing. But one thing is certain: Singaporeans are ready for something new, and businesses are eager to provide it.

Singaporean Cacao’s Brief History

Singapore is a tropical Southeast Asian nation. It is currently renowned as an international business centre, with residents and transplants from all over the globe. The native mix of the nation is made up of Chinese, Indian, and Malay peoples, similar to its northern neighbor Malaysia. Singapore was formerly a part of Malaysia. This happened after it was a British colony and until it gained full independence in 1965.

Yet, after independence, Singapore did not instantly become a worldwide financial center. Singaporeans struggled and sacrificed for decades to make the country the financially prosperous and secure nation it is today. Many Singaporeans recall the nation as it once was, with many more farms, some of which were relatively near to the contemporary city area.

Several cacao fields may be found in the Malacca area of peninsular Malaysia, only a few hours north of the nation. There were also attempts to produce cocoa in the Singapore colony during the nineteenth century, but the soil was unsuitable for such a project so near to the ocean. These days, the only location to see a cocoa tree in Singapore is in the Singapore Botanic Garden, and even then, it is solely for viewing.

Singapore’s major history with cocoa has been in the processing industry. Thousands of tons of cacao beans were imported each year and processed into cacao powder, butter, and liquor for export and home use. Certain chocolate makers remain in Singapore, including Aalst Chocolate and Nestle Singapore. Nevertheless, the majority of these enterprises are now headquartered in Singapore with production facilities in nearby Malaysia or Indonesia.

Singapore’s Contemporary Chocolate Culture

Although chocolate has been available in Singapore for over a century, it is still a relatively new economic item. Although the Millennial generation may have grown up with it, for their parents and grandparents, chocolate was and still is a rare treat. Chocolate was considered a luxury item back then. According to Ronald Ng, not many people, particularly children, had the opportunity to sample delicious chocolates since there were few prominent brands available.

Ronald is the co-founder of Lemuel Chocolate, which is situated in downtown Singapore, and he grew up in 1970s Singapore. His father worked for the Dutch chocolate giant Van Houten before opening his own Singaporean chocolate factory, which was the only reason he ever had any chocolate. Three years after opening LeMuel, they remain Singapore’s sole actual bean-to-bar chocolate store. Chocolate demand has increased throughout the years, but it has not soared.

Craft chocolate, in instance, has had a sluggish burn in Singapore, as opposed to neighboring Thailand or Taiwan. It all stems from Singapore’s strong Chinese ancestry, quick growth, and hot weather. Even now, many are hesitant to spend money on luxuries like chocolate. Nevertheless, chocolate manufacturers are finding optimism in young Singaporeans who aren’t interested in living in their grandparents’ environment. Their nation has evolved, as has their way of life. It’s all about striking a balance between work and play.

A lifestyle change means relishing a nice cup of coffee or a bar of chocolate for Singaporeans in their twenties and thirties. Yet, the scorching temperature and the substantial Chinese impact on the country’s culture should not be overlooked. One long-held Chinese concept is that chocolate is a heaty food, which means it may overheat the body and should thus be avoided in hot weather. Sadly, Singaporean weather is just hot and humid.

Singapore Craft Chocolate

Curiosity is the primary motivator for individuals who purchase handmade chocolate in Singapore. Consumers want to know where their food comes from, how it got there, and why it tastes so wonderful. Both Jay Chua and Charis Xie, two co-founders of Singapores Fossa Chocolate, are of the Millennial age, the youngest in the Singaporean workforce at the present. They reflect their modern, interested client base in many ways.

They undoubtedly provide grown-up chocolates, with single origin chocolates and extras like shrimp & bonito, sake kasu, and salted egg cereal. They’re also quite open about where and how they get their ingredients, as well as the taste inspiration behind each bar. This has enabled them to remain in business for the last four years. Yet, since Singapore is the world’s most expensive city to live in, the expense of renting production space alone begins at a few thousand dollars a month. Although there are other issues, this has been a major difficulty for the young chocolate market.

Such premium price also has few precedents, despite the fact that the country’s fledgling coffee culture was the key predecessor for that norm. Hello Chocolate was founded by Dima Minkov and his wife, Nina, precisely 5 years ago this month, in April 2015. Mast Brothers Chocolate from New York City was one of their first brands as a firm since it was one of the few handmade chocolate companies with any name recognition in Singapore at the time.

Similar to Starbucks’ brand awareness fifteen years ago, Singaporeans were individually importing artisan chocolate bars like the Mast Brothers five years ago because they were first exposed to it outside. Dima and his wife were eager to fulfill and develop the local demand for quality chocolate, however it took years before many regular orders were placed. In Singapore, there is still just one artisan chocolate retail outlet.

Craft chocolate has limited promotion in Singapore’s various media channels, making people’s interest in excellent chocolate a numbers game. How many people can a single chocolate business share its bars with, and how long until those samples run out?

In Singapore, the Future of Chocolate

The Singaporean palate has exposed itself quite a bit after five years of this chocolate revolution. Hello Chocolate is currently selling more 100% and unroasted chocolate than ever before, as well as more different and unusual bars, as some consumers grow more interested in nutrition facts than than tastes. They are on a mission to educate customers about the many advantages of craft. Yet, given the present health crisis, it is questionable how much individuals will continue to spend in chocolate bars.

Without a doubt, the advent of more locations to purchase good chocolate has made everyone aware of its existence. Those with money will purchase better chocolate, as seen by the success of Fossa, Lemuel, and Hello Chocolate. Nevertheless, even before the epidemic, Fossa Chocolate was still exclusively selling online, four years after they first opened their doors. Despite all of the comparisons that people make between coffee and chocolate, the truth remains that people comprehend coffee better.

People associate coffee with a beverage and the beans from which it is prepared. Nothing else. Yet, with chocolate, you can have hot cocoa, chocolate cake, or a chocolate bar; the options are limitless. Customers’ expectations have therefore grown limitless, and this will not change amid a worldwide catastrophe. Add to it the expensive cost of ingredients and an untrustworthy supply chain, and it’s a surprise that any handmade chocolate producer survives.

Nevertheless, customers are unaware of this. They demand the same degree of quality and inventiveness, but they aren’t yet prepared to accept a tenfold price rise, as has occurred with coffee. Therefore, although coffee may have lead the way in terms of taste, chocolate has yet to establish itself to Singaporeans. It must be shown above and above, and more deserving of their money than the alternative, regardless of where or from whom they are purchasing.

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