With Goans discovering the pleasures of mithai it is boom time for vendors of traditional Indian sweets. Most are doing extremely good business, reports Shoma Patnaik
As Goans discover the pleasures of rosogolla and gulab jamun retailers of traditional Indian sweets are the happiest. Profiting from a daily surge in demand and steady line-up of celebrations they look ahead to life with relish. The economy is down and people are conscious about expenditure but sweet sellers are clearing these hurdles with ease. Their business is going great guns and the next big festival of Diwali is when they expect to make handsome profits. Catering to the sweet tooth of locals is turning out to be lucrative for sweet vendors whose cash registers are ringing.
Ground level check reveals that new retailers are in the fray and existing players are in mood to expand. The market is set to grow and all players want a share of the pie. Panjim based Mithai Mandir will be getting bigger soon. By end December 2015 a new store for sure will open up in Margao, says Nitin Maganlal, proprietor, Mithai Mandir.
While news from Karnataka based Big Mishra Pedha is that two new outlets are in the offing in Mapusa and Margao. The Margao outlet is expected to be a gourmet delight. It will be spread over 3,000 sq. ft and have the largest variety of ethnic milk- based sweets. Big Mishra Pedha is also planning for production unit in Kundaim industrial estate to cater to the Goan market. The retail chain at present gets all its sweets in refrigerated vans from Karwar.
Meanwhile smaller halwai’s are also in the mood to get into the fray. A new shop Sunrise Sweets opened in Caranzalem recently although it is no branch of the existing Sunrise Sweets in Panjim Market.
Sweet sellers are expanding because demand is increasing on a day to day basis. Further the demand is for quality products which means it is adding value to our income, says Maganlal. Even working class people who used to eat cheap sweets now prefer quality varieties. The existence of strong outside community working in industry and trend of corporate gifting are another reasons for vendors doing well in sales, he says.
Major festivals like Diwali are occasions when Goa’s pharma hub and other large companies buy sweet boxes in the bulk. The average festival spend ranges between Rs three lakh to Rs seven lakh for MNC companies as they gift to their employees, workers and suppliers. Last Diwali we did sales of Rs 16 lakh and this Diwali we are hoping to top that, says Ravi Kiran Patil, manager Mishra Pedha.
Moreover it is not only the large retailers who are benefiting from corporate gifting but small vendors are gaining from the trend too. The practice of gifting sweet boxes is across businesses and commercial establishments and they are the customers for smaller sweet shops.
However the fundamental reason for the market looking up is increase in consumption by locals. Biting into a jalebi in every occasion is normal for many communities but in Goa syrupy sweets are non-conventional. However currently Goans who were previously consumers of cakes, pastries and chocolates are now taking pleasure in deserts made of khoya, mawa and chhana (paneer). Check out the Mishra Pedha outlet opposite to Don Bosco School, Panjim, on Sunday morning and you can spot locals enjoying the odd ras malai and glass of badam milk.
The awareness of milk based sweets have improved, says Kastur Bhati, partner, Sunrise Sweets, Panjim. While Ashok Purohit, partner, Raj Purohit Sweets, KTC Bust Stand says that in the past his customers did not know about the different varieties of sweets. They referred to a pedha as laddoo but now call it by the proper name. Majority of his customers are locals and they know their kalakand and motichur laddo and ask for it, says Purohit.
Awareness is improved because of the TV channels where different kinds of food are being savored by chefs. And having eaten the milk-based sweets and enjoying its rich taste locals are tucking into it with gusto, say shop owners.
Dairies in Goa do not produce enough of milk to cater to local demand and most sweet vendors purchase milk from out of the state. Vendors say that they buy packaged milk only and cook it in their own kitchen. But regular seizure of adulterated raw material by the FDA implies that quality is suspect of several small vendors. Most vendors claim that preparation of sweets is in kitchens where hygiene is maintained. However several vendors in and around Panjim have their kitchens in and around Taleigao, Merces and cook in what looks really tiny and ill-ventilated rooms.
In Goa like in rest of India virtually all of dairy-based sweet making is in unorganized sector so quality is a big issue for customers wishing to purchase sweets. The presence of bogus sweet vendors who buy raw material like mawa and khoya from out is the bane of the FDA because their transport must be in refrigerated conditions.
Goa’s market size for traditional, milk-based sweets is small but it is large in value. Residents do not mind spending for high priced items. These days they are open to newer varieties and go in for the entire range of Indian sweets. With everybody health conscious purchases of low cal sweets and dry fruit sweets are also increasing.
Traditional Indian sweets are called as Bengali sweets by some and also outside or north Indian sweets by others.