The Taste of Change: Why Food Tastes Different in India

Have you ever had a moment where you go out of your way to buy a chocolate bar because you’ve heard so much about it, only to bite into the chocolate and find that it tastes nothing like advertised? Or if you’ve eaten a Kit Kat bar abroad somewhere and then return home to try the same thing from our stores, but find that it tastes different? Well, this has happened to me a lot. As a chocolate addict, I am constantly finding myself unsatisfied by the flavour and the texture and other small things that are probably not even bothering most people in the world.

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While it isn’t just chocolates that are affected, that is definitely the larger market, catering to a much larger audience. People of all ages love chocolate and every store in the country has at least a small section dedicated to just selling and/or displaying chocolates. Then again, most people won’t even know the difference because it’s not like everyone has had the chance to experience the international versions of the chocolates before trying the Indian version. Not to say that the Indian version tastes bad, it just tastes different. And it’s due to so many reasons, majority of which are not known to us.

For the sake of discussion, let’s focus on chocolate.

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But, why?

Some say that when chocolates were first introduced and manufactured in India, there was a very high import duty on the cocoa and the cocoa butter. Therefore, brands reduced the cocoa content that was added to the chocolates to make it affordable for both production and purchase. Obviously over the years, the brands have made more money thanks to their constant production of chocolates or products, but because the formula for the chocolate and other products were already in place, they just continued with that system, using less chocolate even though they could afford to buy the raw materials at the market price.

Another reason could also be because the cocoa that is grown and produced in India might taste different to the cocoa that is produced in other parts of the world. The temperature always plays a part in these things and due to that, the cocoa could have suffered a loss of flavour and texture, so that when it is added to the final product, the difference is obvious.

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And yet another thought is that because of the warmer and tropical climates of our country, the ingredients that go into the chocolate is different so that it has longer shelf life and that it handles the temperature differently. To cut down on the cost of production, they also use cheaper quality products, making it obvious to the taste difference. But let’s reiterate that most people won’t really know the difference between what chocolate tastes like here or there.

What about the rest?

Stepping away from chocolate for a bit, Starbucks India uses different coffee from what Starbucks around the world uses. Because Starbucks was brought to India by the Tata Group, they’re obviously using Tata coffee. Internationally, Starbucks uses their own coffee, which is grown, processed and crushed by Starbucks themselves. If you’ve had Starbucks internationally and then had Starbucks in India, you can instantly tell the difference. Not to say that it’s a bad difference, but it is a definite difference that you can’t ignore. It’s understandable why they’re not using their own coffee, but for those who are used to a certain taste in Starbucks, it’s obviously a shock to have that taste not be there.

Fast food outlets in the country have a difference in taste as well. It’s in the ingredients that they use and the way that the food is processed and manufactured. McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC, to name a few, use locally sourced products that might or might not have an obvious change in flavours, but if you’re an expert in these kind of things, then you’re definitely going to be able to tell the difference.

All said and done, the different tastes can only be noticed by those who have tried both versions of the same brand. And while it might be an issue (for people like me), to most, it doesn’t really even matter. But it’s interesting to properly understand why this might be happening.

If you think it could be due to other reasons or if you have an opinion about this topic as well, let us know!

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