Goldy Nagdev, Managing Director, Hari Darshan Sevashram Pvt. Ltd

Goldy Nagdev is an entrepreneur, Observer, Thinker, Learner, Traveler, and Motorsports Fanatic. In his own words, he is an entrepreneur, thinker, traveler, and learner. Even though he is at the helm of a legendary consumer brand, Hari Darshan, his energy, enthusiasm & ability to take initiatives for the industry are commendable, especially his constant motivation and guidance to young & new entrepreneurs.

 

If we hadn’t been living under a rock, we all must be familiar with incense sticks, or quite commonly known as Agarbattis and Dhoop Battis. Often lighted in our praying areas, the smoke-emitting sticks are crafted indigenously using an organic mixture of wood sawdust, fragrance oils and water; placing it all on a thin bamboo stick. On the other hand, its counterpart, the dhoop batti, is made from the extracts of Commiphora wightii trees, mixing it with a host of herbs, ghee, and other sweet-smelling products before being sold in the form of conical thick sticks.Owing to its significance in religious, spiritual, meditational, and therapeutic purposes, the incense-based products have become a subject to necessity in the Indian subcontinent since decades. Talking about its religious significance, the div

ersity in Indian religions and the widespread presence of temples across the nation can’t be put out of the conversation. Hence, the diverse religion-based institutions spread across the country, united by its dependence on the incense sticks, have acted as another major growth-inducing factor in its ever-growing demand.

To reach their goal of driving the market growth even more, manufacturers, these days, are convinced that introducing new fruity and floral fragrances such as cinnamon, lemongrass, strawberry, and green apple, would be beneficial to the market’s overall growth. To add to that, other factors such as low operating costs, easily accessible raw materials, and the development of low-smoke product variants are expected to fuel the market even further.

Following the pandemic, the incense industry has realized that it is not immune to the current environment’s uncertainties. Even as COVID-19 hampered businesses around the world in 2020, the Agarbatti Industry in India experienced minimal demand contraction, with exports growing by 15% towards the end of the year. Following the pandemic, as a measure of preparation, there has been greater emphasis on geographically-spread manufacturing units to reduce the risks of unexpected lockdowns and Covid-related restrictions.

To ensure social distancing, introducing newer technologies in the manufacturing processes, where a plan has been structured to ensure minimal involvement of hordes of workers. Indian incense stick makers have carved a niche for themselves globally, thanks to their unique fragrances and superior quality. The industry is known to be the fragrance ambassador of our country with a compound annual growth rate of around 3.6 percent.

Due to its reliance on bamboo sticks, the industry suffered a major setback in the form of inflated import duties on the same. This proved to be a concerning issue for the industry that still depends on imports to assemble one of its basic products. Like almost every other industry, the post-pandemic functionality of the industry has suffered with employment crisis, increase in raw material prices, salesmen being unable to tour for marketing, interstate and export transportation being halted, financial department arrears, and a ban on worship and mass religious places. Everything was at a standstill, with no indication of when it would resume.

As a symbol of divine reverence, the restoration of the incense industry to its simple and original is a divine miracle. As a result, the start was preceded by numerous safety precautions. The labourers were mandated to wear masks at all times while working, transportation was provided to avoid public contamination, sanitization at the factory premises, temperature, and oximeter checks while entering and exiting the premises, social distancing while working, and regular sanitizing of all members and all places. Every precaution has been taken to ensure the highest level of safety. This is the beginning of a “new normal” at a whole new level, with the drive of hard work and the enthusiasm to work with high spirits, as agarbatti, itself, defines the purpose of divinity, purity, and spirituality.

Domestic growth is fueled by spirituality, well-being, and prayer rituals, while exports are fueled by the popularity of oriental culture, Ayurveda, and yoga, with fragrance being the most important factor.Consumers are experimenting with fragrances such as coffee, chocolate, green tea, and a flurry of fruity fragrances in addition to traditional favorites like sandalwood and Indian jasmine.Online sales have experienced a surge, and the incense industry should take advantage of this opportunity. Incense sticks are exported from India to over 150 countries. According to the All India Agarbatti Manufacturers’ Association (AIAMA), which represents over 800 manufacturers across the country, exports are expected to increase by 15% by the end of fiscal 2021.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry did not experience a significant drop in its demand. Factory closures during the nationwide lockdown and the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, had an impact on production. We are yet to recover from the second wave’s effects, but we are optimistic that the rest of the year will see increased consumption. A 15% increase in domestic consumption is hoped for.

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