Pahela Baishakh, the first day of the Bangla new year, has become the biggest occasion for sweetmeat makers on the back of the rising trend among corporates to send gift hampers to their clients and vendors.
It is a tradition to start the Bangla new year, which falls on April 14, with sweets but thanks to the growing corporate culture of sending sweets, makers are selling as much as 100 tonnes of sweets worth about Tk 3 crore per day between April 9 and 17.
But the sweetmeat stores are having a particularly good Pahela Baishakh this year.
One such smiling vendor is Premium Sweets, a high-end sweet brands and a favourite amongst corporates.
“Our sales were higher than last year,” said Mahbubur Rahman Bakul, head of corporate affairs of Premium Sweets, while declining to disclose any figures.
Other than a range of gift boxes at different price points, Premium Sweets is also offering Pahela Baishakh-centric fares like hilsa fish and panta rice in its five store.
Mithai, a sister concern of Pran-RFL Group, is having a bumper Pahela Baishakh too: its sales trebled this year, said Animesh Saha, its chief operating officer.
The company, which has 43 stores in total and sells at the mid price point, is offering 15 types of gift boxes and hampers weighing 1 kg to 4 kg.
Banoful & Co., an affordable sweetmeat brand, saw its sales edge up Pahela Baishakh but it is not racing ahead, according to its owner Didarul Alam Chowdhury.
“It will not reach our expectations as people will head out of the city due to the long weekend,” he added.
Mohammed Ali, president of Bangladesh Sweets Manufacturers Association and also the owner of Muslim Sweets, though is cheerful.
“It's better than any other days,” he added.
While there is no reliable data about the market size of sweetmeat, Saha said the demand is about 10,000 tonnes annually, which yields approximately Tk 300 crore.
Of the sum, branded sweet makers like Mithai, Rosh, Premium Sweets, Premier Sweets, Meena Sweets and Khazana Mithai cater to at best 1,000 tonne.
As per Mithai's analysis, the market growth is quite abnormal as branded sweets' demand increased almost 30 percent but non-branded ones' shot up 60 to 70 percent in the last three to four years.
The rising purchasing power and population growth are the main reasons behind the growth.
About 3,500 sweet shops are registered with the Bangladesh Sweets Manufacturers Association. Of them, around 250 are in the capital.