Confectionery in Kazakhstan: How sweet is the import market?

Confectionery in Kazakhstan: How sweet is the import market?

Confectionery is a favourite treat for food lovers across the world and Kazakhs are no different. As well as being Central Asia’s largest economy, Kazakhstan is also the region’s largest consumer of candies and sweet treats – making it an ideal export market for foreign producers.

Kazakhstan: An extensive confectionery market

In total, including domestic production, export, and imports of foreign goods, Kazakhstan’s confectionery sector is worth $750 million. Consumption stands at 350,000 tons per year, which, in a country with a population of 17.8 million, means each Kazakh eats a large amount of candy each year.

Domestic production, however, doesn’t cover demand. Together, Kazakh companies, spearheaded by the “Big Four” of Kazakh confectionery, Rakhat, Bayan Sulu, Almaty Product and Hamle, cannot produce enough to satiate Kazakhs’ sweet tooth.

Going by export, import, and locally-produced goods, the market in 2016 showed the following three-way split:

  • Domestic production – 183,000 tons
  • Exports – 68,800 tons
  • Imports – 112,800 tons

It’s clear to see from these stats that Kazakhstan, in order to keep its population supplied with the sweet treats they crave, relies on foreign goods.

Part of the reason for this is, over the past 25 years, Kazakhstan’s confectioners have been struggling to match Soviet-era production numbers – largely down to a lack of modern manufacturing equipment and machinery. As such, domestic production is likely

Still, domestic production has been rising consistently since the turn of the decade. In 2016, for instance, output from the Big Four rose 38.7% - but imports are growing too.

Confectionery imports in Kazakhstan

As if 2017, foreign imports control 40.5% of the entire Kazakh market. In fact, both volumes and values of imported products have been rising gently as Kazakhstan enjoys population growth.

Between January-July 2017, Kazakhstan’s confectionery imports totalled 47,600 tons, worth approximately $120 million. Year-on-year, this represents a 13% increase against 2016’s volumes.

What are they importing? It’s the usual mix of chocolate and sugar-candies. Sugar candies in this instance refers to non-chewing gum items, like jellies, chews, boiled sweets, toffees and fudge, and non-chocolate products.

2016’s import stats show the different market shares between Kazakhstan’s main imported candy groups:

  • Chocolate - $151 million
  • Sugar candies - $55.9 million
  • Chewing gum - $1.95 million

The question is where does Kazakhstan source all these sweet treats from? The answer lies in its neighbours and regional partners. Let’s take a look at Kazakhstan’s top sweet suppliers by product categories (as of 2016):


  • Russia - $119 million
  • Ukraine - $29.4 million
  • Germany - $12.8 million

Sugar candies

  • Russia - $29.3 million
  • Ukraine - $18.7 million
  • Turkey – $2.79 million

Chewing gum

  • Uzbekistan - $808,000
  • Russia - $626,000
  • Turkey - $388,000

2017, however, showed a bit of a supplier shakeup. Turkey has emerged as the third largest exporter of confectionery to the Kazakh market. However, Russia and Ukraine still remain the top two – especially Russia. Its producers control over 70% of the import market.

Russia is the biggest player in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) – organisations of which Kazakhstan is also a member. Essentially, this gives Russian producers the edge in the market due to favourable trade agreements and tariff-free exports thanks to their shared membership of these groups.

Even so, imports are rising – creating more scope for suppliers from across Asia, Europe, and the world at large, to grab a slice of Kazakhstan’s sweet spending.

Find Kazakh confectionery buyers at WorldFood Kazakhstan

For foreign brands seeking to explore Kazakhstan for themselves, there is only one real market entry point: WorldFood Kazakhstan.

As the country’s largest food and drink trade exhibition, it is the ideal platform to meet qualified professional buyers from Kazakhstan’s extensive food industry, including retailers, wholesalers, importers, and HoReCa sector members.

Over 5,000 sector specialists attend the show every year – exclusively to find the best new products on the market, and their manufacturers.

If you want to take advantage of this buying power, and make your mark on Kazakhstan’s candy sector, join us at WorldFood Kazakhstan this year.

You can book your stand here, but if you need extra information on your participation options, please contact a member of team.

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