Bitter days ahead for chocolate lovers?

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Welcome to Top of the Morning by Mint, your weekday newscast that brings you five major stories from the world of business. It's Monday, April 22, 2024. My name is Nelson John. Let's get started: The earnings season is in full swing for India’s 245 billion dollar IT industry. Over the last couple of weeks Indian IT giants like TCS, Infosys and Wipro announced their quarterly earnings for the last quarter of FY24. But what about the future of the industry that employs close to 5.4 million Indians? Recent deal wins and Gartner’s forecast have painted a pretty optimistic picture for the IT sector's future. For instance, Infosys just announced its highest-ever annual contract value at $17.7 billion for FY24, and it’s not just Infosys riding this wave. Wipro and TCS have also reported strong order books, with TCS raking in a whopping $13.2 billion in the last quarter alone. They’re all betting on better times post the upcoming US presidential elections, expecting a boost in client spending. Mint’s Shelley Singh takes a look at what the future could look like for the Indian IT industry amidst a rapidly declining workforce. Top three companies in the sector - TCS, Infy and Wipro saw a deduction of more than 64,000 in their workforce.  Chocolates are about to get pricier and it’s not just regular inflation at work. Cocoa prices have shot up recently, and not just by a little. Crop failures in big cocoa-producing countries like Ivory Coast and Ghana, have sent cocoa prices up by 133 per cent since last June! Behind this failure is climate change, adverse weather and a crop disease that affects the root of the cocoa tree. India too is set to feel the pinch. This story by howindialives.com breaks down the bitter truth unfolding in the chocolate industry. Even though we grew about 30,000 tonnes of cocoa in 2022-2023, it wasn't enough to keep up with our chocolate cravings. We had to import close to 1 lakh tonnes of cocoa products like beans, butter, and powder last year, and with global prices on the rise, our costs have soared as well. This price hike might cool down later this year if the crop yields improve, but it’s not just about the weather. The cocoa market has some deep-rooted issues. Most cocoa farmers are barely scraping by, earning much less than what their valuable crops should bring in.  India’s tech epicentre and the internet’s favourite city Bengaluru lately has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Be it the soaring temperatures in a city otherwise famous for its “air conditioned” weather or the severe water crisis it’s been going through for the past couple of months. Amidst the empty tanks and drying lakes one has to ask whether the city’s companies are using its water judiciously. An analysis of Bengaluru-based top BSE-listed firms reveals an 11% spike in water usage in the last year, signalling the severity of the situation. 56 of the top 1000 listed companies on BSE are headquartered in Bengaluru. Only 45 had usable data, showing a collective water consumption increase to 33.3 million kiloliters in the fiscal year 2022-23. Notably, public sector companies saw a modest 2.2 per cent rise, while private sector firms ramped up their water usage by 21 per cent. Mint’s senior associate editor and data journalist Niti Kiran breaks down the water consumption pattern of each industry in Bengaluru Niti also takes a look at their water management practices.  Taylor Swift - the pop culture phenomenon had a terrific 2023, ending the year as the TIME magazine’s person of the year. This year too the pop juggernaut of Taylor Swift - with millions of “Swifties” behind her - doesn't seem to be slowing down. This next story, however, is not about her music. Taylor’s Eras Tour in Singapore not only dazzled fans but also showcased the innovative use of 5G technology, according to Per Narvinger, Ericsson's Senior Vice President for Cloud Software and Services. At the heart of this tech integration was Singtel's 7 dollar worth 5G Express Pass, which offered fans high-speed data priority to stream and share the event. This service highlights a burgeoning opportunity to monetize 5G technologies through network slicing, which allows for dedicated broadband bandwidth tailored to specific events and needs without additional infrastructure. Network slicing is akin to a toll highway for data, offering a premium path separate from regular traffic. This technology is not yet widespread globally, but India, with its rapidly expanding 5G infrastructure, stands to benefit significantly. Mint’s telecom correspondent Gulveen Aulakh reports on this path breaking phenomenon and how a Taylor Swift concert proved helpful in testing it out. What can 70,000 rupees get you? In some cities, it's enough for a month’s rent in a decent apartment. But if you're eyeing a night at some of India's posh resorts like AmanBagh in Rajasthan or BrijRama Palace in Varanasi, that same amount might just cover one night, especially during peak season. Yeah, the pandemic has really changed the game for hotel pricing, sending rates sky-high. The luxury hotel scene has been on a roll, with domestic tourism fuelling a surge in demand. Mint’s Varuni Khosla spoke to several hospitality industry insiders, who noted that the travel patterns have shifted, with Indians now opting for more frequent short stays rather than the occasional long vacation. This change has undoubtedly played a role in the climbing rates. Rating agencies such as Crisil and CareEdge, predict that the hotel industry is in for a few good years, with steady revenue growth thanks to robust domestic demand and a gradual uptick from international visitors. The scene is set for a continued boom, with minimal new hotels opening up, which just tightens the supply further.We'd love to hear your feedback on this podcast. Let us know by writing to us at feedback@livemint.com. You may send us feedback, tips or anything that you feel we should be covering from your vantage point in the world of business and finance. Mint Primer | Let the good times roll: IT services eye a better futureThe bitter truth unfolding in chocolates industry Bengaluru water crisis: Firms gulp more but also pledge to reduce usageSilent Symphony: Taylor Swift’s cryptic 5G taleScent of growth for Indian hotels as the good times check in

Bitter days ahead for chocolate lovers?

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