My elders have witnessed the aftermath of the 1947 Indian Independence Movement and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, and I have myself experienced the 2008- 2009 recession that hit India... But we never saw a dip in the sales of sweets as we are experiencing due to COVID-19,” says Mohammad Naved, Owner of the Kallan Sweets, established in Old Delhi some 80 years ago.
The vintage shop is famous for its Habshi Halwa, Sona Halwa, and Shahi Tukda mithais. But patrons of these distinct mithais decreased in the pandemic. “Sales have massively dipped, and for the same reason we had to let go of some of the staff members. We are operating with 30 per cent of our original staff members, and less products in the shop.
We hope things pick up slowly,” says Naved. Co-Founders of Arq Mithai, Neha Lakhani and Ashay Dhopatkar, echo Naved’s situation of a decrease in sales figures. “The dip is easily more than 50 per cent compared to pre-Covid times,” Lakhani reveals, adding, “Our primary market is the wedding market when an average order is 200-300 sweet boxes. With weddings postponed and only 50 guests attending in those which are taking place, the orders have declined considerably.
Not to forget, many guests are apprehensive of receiving sweets due to the spread of the virus.” At present, adequate safety measures are in place and being communicated to their potential customer base to bounce back in the market.
Sid Mathur, Founder and Director, Khoya Mithai, has also fixed his approach to safety and hygiene. “Coming from a background of professional kitchens and restaurants, our benchmarks in these two aspects were always high.
There is daily temperature checks, deep cleaning of the kitchen and office, mandatory use of masks and hair nets, protocols for handwashing, sanitisation of the boxes before packaging, contactless payments, internal audits, thorough training of all staff, kitchen, store and delivery, and fresh mithai is made every day,” he says. Mathur is also looking at new innovations in mithai making. “We have tried to work with ingredients that will remain consistent in quality and supply.
One exciting launch has been of our Kachori, after seeing how people were missing street foods and savoury snacks. The response has been better than we could have imagined, and we currently make them on Wednesdays and Saturdays.”
For Pooja Aggarwal, Director, Bhimsen Bengali Sweets House, the innovation has been in the stride of delivering food items and using a lot of combos. “We are on Swiggy and Zomato, promoting various combos such as paring up mithais with dishes. The sales are picking up, but losses are yet to be recovered,” she says.