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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

People are consuming more chocolate and sweets to lift their spirits

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Gaston de Persigny
Gaston de Persigny
Gaston de Persigny - Reporter at The European Times News

People are turning to chocolate and sweets in droves to lift their spirits during a recession. That’s according to British chocolate company Hotel Chocolate, and it’s gearing up for a very busy Christmas period.

However, its CEO Angus Thirlwell warns that it is still too early to make an annual financial forecast due to the return of pre-pandemic last-minute shopping habits.

“We’re finding that people need chocolate. We’ve seen that before in times of recession, like in 2008. We’re very resilient in those times,” says Thirlwell.

The company previously reported underlying profit before tax and one-offs of £21.7m for its latest financial year. This is more than double growth from the previous 12 months, driven by hot chocolate machine subscriptions. The company is due to announce its new forecasts in January.

According to Thirlwell, after the previous two holiday shopping trips were disrupted by the pandemic, British shoppers are now enjoying the pleasure of shopping and browsing the stores, which accounted for 70% of the group’s sales over the past six months. Hotel Chocolat has more than 100 stores in the UK and a chocolate factory in Cambridgeshire, East England.

Due to high household bills in the UK, consumers have turned to cheaper brands of chocolate in supermarkets, but according to Thirlwell this is not the case in specialist shops.

According to a material published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, the homeland of chocolate is Ecuador. The inhabitants of this country first began to collect the fruits of the cocoa tree and use them about 5300 years ago.

“The inhabitants of the upper part of Amazonia began to collect the fruit of a tree that is a close relative of the cacao from Mexico. This happened about 1,500 years before the Olmecs and Aztecs. It seems that the tradition of consuming cacao spread from the south northward, moving from Ecuador toward Mexico,” said Michael Blake of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

The history of the discovery and spread of chocolate, as well as tomatoes, potatoes and other “gifts of the New World”, has long been a subject of debate among geneticists, historians and archaeologists. There is no consensus as to the homeland of the first varieties of cacao trees, and when the Indians first began to use its fruits in food.

For example, many historians today believe that the first variants of cocoa were discovered by the Mayan Indians, which happened about 3,400 years ago. On the other hand, archaeologists have found potential clues that the ancient legendary Olmecs had previously appreciated the qualities of chocolate. Genetic analysis shows that the wild relatives of cacao trees grow not in Central America, but in northern Amazonia.

Blake and his colleagues have resolved these disputes by comprehensively studying the pottery and ceramic shells found in the settlements of the ancient Mayo-Chinchipe Indians who lived in southern Ecuador about 5,400 years ago.

Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/round-chocolate-coated-pastry-on-white-stick-33715/

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