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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Rajkot: Covid threat declining, prices high but sweet sale up

With the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, people are thronging sweetmeat shops without much restraint for the first time in almost two years.

Written by Gopal Kateshiya | Rajkot |
November 4, 2021 2:39:07 am
Sweets are packed at Shivshakti Dairy Farm; Workers make farsan at Kailas Farsan on University Road in Rajkot. Chirag Chotaliya

DR MAHESH Rathod, a city-based physician, inspects the new launches section in a sweetmeat shop displaying badam sandwich, dry fruits pyramid, pineapple laddus, kesar barfi, etc. as he packs the traditional sata, kaju katli, sweet gujiya and ras malai. The Shree Gayatri Dairy Farm, a sweets store in Junction Plot area is brimming with customers. Many businessmen this paper met say sales are up by nearly 15 times this season, even as the prices are higher compared to last year.

“I love sweets, especially sata (a sweetmeat preparation of wheat flour, ghee and sugar) but I had to stop consumption due to Covid-19. But now that the virus is on the retreat, we would like to make up for the lost time and there can’t be better time than Diwali to offer sweets to family and relatives,” said Dr Rathod, adding boxes of kaju katli, a preparation of cashew nuts, ghee and sugar.

After waiting for rather long to purchase sweets at a crowded Shivshakti Dairy Farm on Mavdi Road, Payal Rajput, a teacher at a private school, says, “The prices are boring a hole in our pocket, but can one do without purchasing sweets on Diwali?” She takes boxes of kaju katli and chevdo.

Purchasing some ras malai, Ramesh Kacha, owner of a readymade garments shop, says, “Prices of almost all sweets have gone up by 10 per cent. But that is okay. Prices of almost all commodities are going up.”
Kaju katli is costing average Rs 880 per kg, Rs 40 more than the previous year as the price of cashewnut, the main ingredient, has shot up due to disruptions in supplies from Afghanistan, shop owners say. Similarly, penda varieties are selling in the range of Rs 380 to Rs 500 per kg. Thabdi is costing Rs 480.

With the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, people are thronging sweetmeat shops without much restraint for the first time in almost two years. “Sales are 15 times higher this year as compared to last year as people are set to celebrate a regular Diwali. We have increased the prices of sweet items by an average 10 per cent due to the increase in cost of milk, dry fruits and fuel. But that has had little impact on sales as consumer sentiment is buoyant,” says Mansukh Akbari, director of Shiv Shakti Ice Cream Pvt Limited, the private firm which owns Shivshakti Dairy Farm.

“The sales were very good during Dussehra and the trend has continued during Diwali. Factories and corporate entities have purchased dry fruits-based sweets in large volumes. Retail customers segment is also vibrant as easing of Covid-19 restrictions has released pent up demand and people are no longer afraid to venture out of their homes,” says Brijesh Akbari, in charge at the Shivshakti Dairy Farm, which is also known as SS Sweets. The firm has been selling average 4,000 kilograms of sweets every day for the past few days.

“Milk and dry fruits-based penda, thabdi and kaju kalti are the top three Diwali sweets which are consumed on New Year day. On Bhai Duj, people turn to sweets like basundi, rasmadhuri, shreekhand, etc,” says Kailash Sakariya of Gayatri Dairy Farm.

Diwali sweets go hand-in-hand with fried snacks chevdo and chavanu. But kandois those who make farsan-have mixed feelings as the swift Diwali sales come at a time when high cooking oil prices are keeping them on the boil.

Rajnikant Thakkar alias Munnabhai of Kailas Farsan, a popular snacks shop on University Road, says that the Diwali sales have been very good this year, thanks to Covid-19 pandemic threat level going down and people going out for vacationing who buy it in bulk.

“But palm oil prices have skyrocketed to more than Rs 2,000 per 15 kg tin from around Rs 1,000 a few months ago. This forced us to increase farsan price from Rs 160 to Rs 180 from October 4. This price offers us the slimmest of margins as prices of besan (gram flour), another main ingredient of farsan, have also gone up. But our shop has been running for almost two decades and we can’t push the price higher than this ahead of festivities,” says Rajnikant Thakkar of Kailas Farsan, adding, “We need five tins of palm oil every day during week-long Diwali festivities.”

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