Nazlan Ertan - İZMİR
The first sound I hear upon entering İzmir’s Chocolate Festival is the piercing wail of a seven-year-old boy crying that there is no place left for the kids chocolate-making workshop. His mother, a long-legged 20-something who looks like she never let a single chocolate cross her lips, tells him she will get him to the next one. But the boy - standing among the young crowd, chocolate fountains, chocolate-dipped strawberries, and chocolate-colored crowns - is inconsolable.
“He is also angry because he was not allowed to touch the chocolate statue of Ataturk,” explains the mother.
In İzmır, a city that defines itself as the strongest bastion of Kemalism, it is not surprising that the chocolate festival sports a chocolate-and-candy statue of Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey.
Despite the youthful crowd in the Aegean city of İzmir, Turks are far from being huge consumers of chocolate. Not only does Turks’ per capita consumption of chocolate remain below 1 kilo per person annually, (compared to 7 kilos among Germans, the world’s top consumers), they are reluctant to pay big bucks for it – often opting for chocolate bars and cheaper snacks.
Last week, Yıldız Holding AŞ, which offers the popular Ülker brand and continued to lead sales with a 39 percent share of the market, announced that it would introduce to Turkish supermarkets the chocolates of Godiva, an international up-market brand that it acquired a decade ago.
Godiva will now enter 8,000 supermarkets in Turkey, with three different products: The Dark Ganache Heart, the Belgian Lion and the Open Oyster, with prices ranging between 2.5 and 15 Turkish Liras. But according to EuroMonitor’s 2016 report on Chocolate Confectionary in Turkey, there is also a prospect for change.
“The healthy lifestyle trend is positively affecting sales growth in some areas like dark chocolate, since cocoa is believed to be good for health. As a result, sugar-free chocolate and higher cocoa content chocolate brands are expected to perform well over the forecast period. Moreover, rising consumer disposable incomes and increasing awareness of quality chocolate are also expected to boost growth,” it says.
In line with this trend, the İzmir Chocolate Festival provided a platform for the “chic locals”: The upmarket chocolate makers of town, such as artisanal chocolate-makers Choccoart and İpeksi Tatlar, as well as high-end French
patisseries, such as Leone and Arpege. “The price!” said one young man as he distanced himself from one of the stands. “Their Ottoman-style chocolates seem as expensive as the Hürrem rings!”
The organizers think they came up with a good spectrum of chocolate products and brought coffee stands into the three-day festival various.
“Coffee and chocolate are inseparable,” said Şahin Aydoğan, who himself organized an İzmir Coffee Festival last year. “We wanted to bring great variety in both for the people of İzmir every year.”