South Korean confectioner Lotte is reportedly planning to extend its chocolate sales in China beyond its test markets in three major cities.

The company’s sales are currently limited to Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin.

Lotte had a 6.5% market share in Shanghai and 7.7% in Beijing, only two months after its first product launch, the company said.

The move to increase distribution beyond those urban centres will allow it to take advantage of soaring consumer demand, Lotte China president Lee Kwang-Hoon told Reuters in an interview.

“Chocolate consumption has been growing rapidly in China in recent years,” Lee said. “China’s chocolate market may exceed its candy market in size in the next three to four years.”

Last year, Lotte set up a Chinese venture with US giant Hershey. The venture supplies chocolate products in various costal provinces, including Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

The company’s routes to market are primarily through hypermarket and supermarket channels.

China’s CNY6.5bn (US$922m) chocolate market is growing more than 10% a year, figures released by market intelligence company Euromonitor International suggested.