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A sweet marketing splash by Pattappas

A matter of concern is the lack of focus on creeping hikes in prices. This has a Domino effect with one hike leading to another, unwarranted by costs. The corporatisation of businesses has made its own contribution to this. The government, which is supposed to be the guardian and protector, itself joins hands and makes merry. I cite the instance of the increase in the price of sweets and essential items of expenditure on Diwali eve.

Just five years ago, it was standard to price a sweet around Rs 300 per kg and savory at less than Rs 200 per kg. Thanks to the go-merry inflation these days, the rates have shot up to an average of Rs 800-Rs 1000 per kg for sweets and Rs 600-700 for savories. 

Few factors are at blame for this situation- increase in cost of ingredients, labour, infrastructure, marketing and the like. The cost of these components accounts for only a small portion of the total cost. It is the second and third factors that seem to have run wild. In Chennai, industry forerunners like Grand Sweets, & Snacks, Krishna Sweets and Saravana Bhavan seem to have set this trend. Their expensive outlets taken on a lease is one troubling factor.

The government which used to moderate the increase, this time has joined their ranks. In the past few years, Aavin, the state-owned leader in dairy products, was selling sweets during Diwali time at around Rs 400 per kg. Convenient 250 gm packs were offered at Rs 100-110 each. This year Aavin has hiked the price of such packages in the range of Rs 175-Rs 250 or Rs 700-1000 per kg. 

Pattappa Caterers, enjoying a reputation and high demand as caterers for weddings and other mega functions, tapped good export custom. They targeted Indian families in the US cities, offering them sweets in the price range of around Rs 650-Rs 700 per kg, which included a freight element of around Rs 100 per kg. This was far lower than the price the diaspora earlier was accustomed to pay.

Back in Chennai, Pattappa Caterers retained Hemamalini Kalyana Mandapam at the heart of the city, employed dozens of cooks and offered a wide range of sweets and savories at prices from Rs 500 per kg for sweets and around Rs 400 per kg for savories. These were far from the cut-throat prices charged by the usual suspects. Pattappa attracted huge custom, sizable sales, despite hardly any publicity. 

I welcome this prospect of quality caterers offering goodies much lower than their cartelised counterparts.

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