Though the festival of lights is synonymous with sweets, fear of spurious ingredients being used in their preparation to meet the festive demand is keeping consumers at bay, as highlighted in a just-concluded analysis by apex industry body ASSOCHAM.
“If trends are anything to go by, there is a considerable rise of about 30 per cent in demand for assorted cookies, low-cal premium biscuits and bakery products this Diwali as consumers shift away from sweets amid fears of adulteration,” noted a sector specific analysis aimed at asserting prevailing market trends this Diwali conducted by ASSOCHAM.
“Growing suspicion about adulteration together with rise in preference for healthy and low-fat products has hit the demand for traditional sweets which has fallen by over 50 per cent especially those made from milk,” said Mr D.S. Rawat, secretary general of Assocham while releasing the chamber’s analysis.
“The Rs 25,000 crore worth biscuit industry in India is making merry this festive season and its business is likely to grow by leaps and bounds this Diwali owing to multiple factors like attractive packaging in different shapes, sizes and flavours, quality control, longer shelf life and others,” said Mr Rawat.
India’s traditional sweets market, which is worth over Rs 50,000 crore, remains largely unorganised and constantly faces threats from rising prices of key raw materials, including milk, butter, sugar and dry fruits, therefore, many resort to the use of inferior or adulterated ingredients and in some cases, they may even use chemicals to keep the costs down.
Biscuit hampers have even surpassed demand for chocolates and fruit juice packs owing to their growing acceptance amid varied Indian palates and their affordability, highlighted the analysis done by the ASSOCHAM Social Development Foundation.
Assocham Social Development Foundation had interacted with about 100 leading sweet shops countrywide to enquire about demand for traditional sweets during the festive season in past two weeks.
Majority of sweet shop owners/representatives reported a drastic dip in demand for sweets to the extent of about 25-50 per cent. Most sweet shop owners said they have started using more of dry fruits and less of mawa and other dairy products, which has increased their costs by about 15-20 per cent.
Many of the traditional sweet shop owners said that considering the growing demand for biscuits/cookies, they have started selling the same under their own brands and are selling other popular biscuit brands to lure customers. Some of them said there is more demand for branded biscuits compared to chocolates this year.