India’s food regulator FSSAI has asked the chocolate industry to follow a new set of quality norms from next year to ensure that the best quality product is made available to the customer.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has finalised the new quality standards for chocolates, whose market in India is growing exponentially with more people picking up the habit of gifting chocolates.
The new standards — published in a gazette notification last week — will be applicable to 10 types of chocolates based on amount and types of cocoa and other materials used in these products.
They are milk, milk covering, plain, plain covering, blended, white, filled, composite, praline and couverture chocolates.
The regulator permitted 5% vegetable fats and artificial sweetener isomaltulose, a move that is likely to benefit importers.
Currently, the FSSAI allows use of cocoa butter in chocolates and not vegetable fats, whereas international food standards authority Codex permits 5% vegetable fats. With the Indian chocolate market set to cross the $2 billion mark within a year, the regulator facilitated the entry of importers.
The new regulation will come into effect from January 1, 2018, giving the Indian industry some breathing space to out its internal structure in order to maintain these standards and prepare for competition from the importers.
Currently, only a handful of players dominate the Indian chocolate market. The regulator took more than a year and a half to finalise the standards for chocolates.
Industry watchers said the use of vegetable fats in chocolates has been a bone of contention in imported chocolates as a number of companies had their consignments withheld at the ports because of non-compliance of Indian standards the product.