The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has proposed allowing vegetable fats in chocolate in a move that could help the market grow at a faster pace.

The FSSAI published draft amendments to the Food Safety and Standards Regulations proposing that chocolate can contain vegetable fats that are not cocoa butter so long as it does not exceed 5% of the finished product, the Indian Express reported on 7 August.

The 5% is calculated after deducting the total weight of any other added edible foodstuffs, and it must not reduce the minimum contents of cocoa materials in the chocolate.

The draft amendments – which was opened to public comment for 30 days – would also allow the use of the artificial sweetener isomaltulose, at up to 50% of the total sugar content.

Amit Lohani, convenor of the Federation of Indian Food Importers (FIFI), told just-food that the new regulations would help the market grow at a faster pace as it would allow the import of well-known European brands previously unavailable in India due to their vegetable oil content.

Lohani also said that vegetable fat helped maintain the shape and texture of chocolate while increasing the melting point, which was important in India’s hot climate.

He said chocolate consumption in India was around 150g-200g per person per year.

According to Candy Industry, India is one of four countries projected to have the highest chocolate market growth in the period 2015-2020.

It quoted ‘A Study of the Indo-China Chocolate Market 2016’ as saying that the domestic chocolate industry was already worth more than US$1bn and was growing at a rate of 20% annually.

The Research and Markets study said that nearly 70% of chocolate was consumed in urban India, with poor infrastructure, lack of cold storage facilities and strong demand for traditional Indian sweets inhibiting the growth of the rural chocolate market.

However, emerging trends showed a growing affinity for dark and sugarless chocolates, as well as a growing demand for premium chocolate.