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Tickled pink: Japan lovers taste new chocs on Valentine's Day

AFP  |  Tokyo 

It is a marriage made in Heaven for cute-obsessed Japan: this Valentine's Day, lovers can present the object of their affection with a world first -- naturally bright pink

The in the glitzy shopping area of Ginza in is a riot of wall-to-wall pink, as marketing departments go into overdrive to promote the "fourth" type of chocolate, after milk, dark and white.

And the salespeople have chosen their moment wisely: is massive business in -- with tradition dictating that the women give presents to the men.

"I love pink. I love So this is just great for me," said 24-year-old Natsuko Takeuchi, searching for a sweet treat at the

"Knowing that this is created purely naturally, without any additional flavour or colour. I think it's really good," added Takeuchi, who operates a on Japan's iconic bullet trains.

For more than 80 years, when white chocolate was invented, the world has had to be content with just three varieties.

Then in September, Barry unveiled its new "ruby" type -- the fruit of more than 10 years of -- and five months later, bars appeared on shelves in both and

The pink colour is obtained naturally, without using additives or artificial colouring, explained Akiko Hara, a for Barry in

The colour comes from ruby cocoa "that can be found in normal plantations," Hara told AFP.

The firm's R&D department keeps the recipe a closely guarded secret, locked away in a safe.

The result is a chocolate that tastes both creamy and fruity, with a subtle hint of raspberry.

If Japan is the testing ground for the new variety of chocolate, it was well chosen.

The Japanese chocolate market is worth nearly five billion dollars per year, according to figures from group

This places Japan still way behind the ($18.9 billion) but still at the top of the table.

Japanese consumers also crave a huge variety of products, as can be seen from the enormous range of KitKat flavours -- from wasabi to green tea to sake.

So consumers have a huge choice in what chocolates to buy: "Honmei-choco" for lovers, "giri-choco" for male bosses and colleagues and "tomo-choco" for close friends.

In a sign of how seriously is taken, firm created a storm when it called on people to forgo the chocs for colleagues (known as "obligation chocolate") to focus on loved ones.

Convenience stores on every corner are packed with potential presents and master chocolatiers also go to town for the occasion, creating ornate shapes such as pink high-heeled shoes made of chocolate.

The result: huge sales. This year, love-struck Japanese are expected to shell out 130 billion yen (one billion dollars) on chocolates, according to Kinenbi Culture Laboratory, a group on Japanese festivals.

The tradition of women chocolate to men stems from a promotional campaign at the end of the 1950s.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, February 13 2018. 11:45 IST