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The world wants chocolate!

As more people all over the world -- mostly notably in China and India -- enter the ranks of the middle class and are able to afford the calorie-rich diets of the Western world, their increased appetites have helped drive up prices of foods such as bread, milk, and chocolate, notes FP Editor in Chief Moisés Naím in his latest column, "Can the World Afford a Middle Class?"

Chocolate companies such as Nestlé, Mars, Ferrero, and Hershey are eager to satisfy the cravings of budding chocoholics in Asia, where consumption of the sweet stuff lags far behind that of Europe, as shown in the following table, based on numbers from a recent BusinessWeek article. To boost sales, these companies have sometimes had to adapt flavors to Asian tastes, such as with green-tea Hershey Kisses and azuki-bean Kit Kats, which the slide show here details.

 
Chocolate consumption, per capita annually24 lbs. (11 kg), in Britain and Switzerland3.5 oz. (99 g)5.8 oz. (165 g)
Annual sales$35 billion$813 million$394 million
Sales growth1-2% annuallynearly doubled in past 5 years64% in past 5 years

Photos: SEBASTIAN WILLNOW/AFP/Getty Images; MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images; SEBASTIAN D'SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images

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