Is mithai losing ground to chocolates in festive gifting? This Delhi brand aims to change that
Muth meetha karo!
In a culture-rich country like India, the aforementioned saying is an expression of happiness on any special occasion or festival that calls for the sharing of sweets, resembling the auspiciousness of the jamboree.
However, in recent years, chocolates, cookies, and confectionery items have replaced the traditional Indian mithai boxes. But what made this mithai-eating country switch to chocolates, creams, and caramels?
Sid Mathur, Founder and Director of New Delhi-based Khoya Mithai says that gifting mithai are passé now, and people have restyled their way of offering sweets by gifting premium-packaged chocolate boxes, cookies, and other items.
Seeing this gap in the market — where the placement of mithai in its home nation was neglected — Sid, a professional in the F&B industry, decided to launch a luxury mithai brand in 2016, with the vision to bring back traditional sweets with the importance it deserved.
The modern mithai movement
Sid started Khoya Mithai from his home kitchen with Rs 30 lakh out of his personal savings and through investment made by his friends. He says the Indian sweets market is dominated by halwais (traditional confectioner), who know the core traditional taste of these sweets. On the other hand, he says a pâtissier chef brings in the premium distinction and a luxury feel to the cuisine.
Thus, Sid hired both halwais and pâtissier chefs to blend the Indian taste with French elegance to provide the premium-quality, luxury look to his sweets.
Started as a delivery service only, Sid introduced Khoya Mithai in the market between 2016-17 by collaborating with big Indian weddings and engagement ceremonies. The first Indian wedding it catered to was in Udaipur. In 2018, Khoya Mithai opened a pop-up store in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, and another store in The Chanakya mall.
From the home trials to finally introducing the product in the market, Sid says he upgraded the ingredients of his mithais by using premium-quality raw materials.
He adds, “Mithai is a traditional sweet, but everything demands a change. People were bored with gifting mithai with monotonous taste and look, and as a resort, switched to chocolates and other sweet bakery items.
To our surprise, international chocolate brands hit the Indian sentiments and caught hold of the audience, but Indian brands hardly paid any heed to what the consumers want.”
Sid claims that Khoya Mithai’s sweets are made with 100 percent natural ingredients, using zero preservatives, additives, or added colours.
Making a wider presence
As viewers, we have always wondered what’s inside that big hamper in Star TV’s talk show ‘Koffee with Karan.’ Well, the hamper included a Khoya Mithai box too in 2019 besides other gifts. Sid says he banged on the opportunity after qualifying various protocols and standards by host Karan Johar’s team, and chef.
In fact, the brand has grown substantially in the last four years with a key presence in The Oberoi, New Delhi.
Khoya Mithai has received appreciation from the very beginning, starting with notable comments from Chef Nobu, who praised the taste, and Chef Manish Mehrotra of Indian Accent, who called it "The Laduree of India.. simply amazing!"
The company has collaborations with clients, including Cartier, Lexus, Emirates, Dharma Productions. In fact, it also created an exclusive range of mithai for Louis Vuitton's pan-India Diwali gifting last year.
Challenges and competition
According to the Federation of Sweets and Namkeen Manufacturers, the Indian sweets market touched a turnover of Rs 60,000 crore earlier this year (pre-COVID), with a majority of the business coming from the unorganised sector, growing at a CAGR of 10-12 percent. But, the organised sector is not far behind in the competition.
Since its inception, the company has been growing 40 percent year-on-year, and is aiming to hit the valuation of Rs 20 crore by 2021. However, Sid says that the unorganised sector poses a big challenge.
According to him, leading Indian brands like Haldirams and Bikanerwala are a healthy competition, as he is yet to make people aware of his brand’s quality and authenticity that falls in the premium category.
Khoya Mithai offers sweets in the range between Rs 300 for a box of three pieces and goes up to Rs 3,000 for a box of 36 pieces. Sid says that Khoya Mithai differentiates itself by remaining traditional, unlike customising its offerings with an international taste.
The way ahead
For now, Khoya Mithai is consolidating its operations in northern India. It is also venturing into new categories like wedding catering. Sid claims that the company stayed away from it for a while to be 100 percent assured of the market scenario, which he now feels would yield good results in the coming time.
Besides that, Khoya Mithai expects to see more collaborations and key associations with brands, celebrities, and associations. In fact, this festive season, the brand is coming up with customised gifting options.
Edited by Suman Singh