Agro-processing industry: Bangladesh’s next export frontier
The market of agro-processing products is increasing very fast both in domestic and export markets
Bringing a solution to post harvest losses, agro-processing industry has opened a new avenue for the Bangladesh in the field of export earnings, which already witnessed a 41% rise to $374 million in the last fiscal year.
According to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data compiled by Bangladesh Agro-Processors’ Association (BAPA), in the fiscal year 2017-18 Bangladesh earned $371 million, up by 40.72%, which was $263.63 million the previous year.
Since Bangladesh is an agricultural country, the opportunity is unlimited in tapping the export potentiality due to availability of the raw materials, said people related to the sector, while talking to the Dhaka Tribune.
While a huge amount of crops are being wasted due to lack of processing and supply chain, it can be reduced through establishment of a strong processing industry.
Despite having bright future in terms of product diversification, export market, there are some challenges for the sector.
Challenges include non-tariff barriers in exporting goods to our neighboring countries, post harvesting storage capacity, lack of credit for SMEs and technology.
In attaining the $1 billion target by 2021 and to increase market share in the global export market, Bangladesh has to ensure global Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) in every stage of production and processing.
“In the agro-processing sector, the value addition is very high as the raw materials are fully from the local sources. So, making the sector strong will help Bangladesh to reduce dependency on single sector and to diversify export goods,” AFM Fakhrul Islam Munshi, president of BAPA told the Dhaka Tribune.
But the sector has to concentrate on product Development and exploring new markets key to grab market share, said Fakhrul.
Product diversification can be done by utilizing different crops which are produced abundantly in Bangladesh such as jackfruit, pineapple, banana and guava as there is surplus production in the country, he added.
If the government provides policy supports and testing facility required to for ensures standard to reach the global standard. Bangladesh will be able to reach $1 billion earning mark by 2020, stakeholders opined.
Meanwhile, the sector people and stakeholders stressed on commercial agriculture as our agriculture is still subsistence one.
Development and growth of food processing industries
The Asian Age
The era of food processing began about 2 million years ago when our distant ancestors put flame to food and discovered cooking. After that, we see fermenting, drying, preserving with salt, and other primitive forms of food processing. This ultimately led to the modern food processing methods of today, which give us an abundant, safe, convenient, affordable and nutritious food supply.
Processed Foods can be defined as- “any deliberate change in a food that occurs before it’s available for us to eat. It can be as simple as freezing or drying food to preserve nutrients and freshness, or as complex as formulating a frozen meal with the right balance of nutrients and ingredients”
Bangladesh is a low-middle income country and is growing fast and aspires to become middle-income status by 2021, the 50thanniversary of its independence. With economic growth of 8 percent per annum, the $2.2 billion food processing sector in Bangladesh grew on average 7.7 percent per annum between fiscal years 2004/05 and 2010/11, responding to growth of the Bangladeshi middle class over the same period.
The beverage industry more than doubled during the same period to $29 million, showing an average growth rate exceeding 8 percent per annum. (Hussain &Leishman, 2013, p.2).According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, in its 2006 Economic Census, there were approximately 246 medium-sized food processing industries employing 19 percent of the industrial manufacturing workforce in Bangladesh or 8 percent of the total manufacturing labor force.
The food industry employs 2.45 percent of the country’s total labor force, and its share in the GDP was 2.01 percent in 2010. There are also numerous small-scale factories and domestic units engaged in food processing throughout the country. According to some industry analysts, the food processing sector in Bangladesh is a $4.5 billion US Dollar industry (Wikipedia, n.d).
Demand for processed foods is increasing due to busy lifestyles and rising incomes of bourgeoisie class. Overall sales of processed foods are anticipated to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17 percent a year over 2013-2018, reaching a value of $21.2 billion in 2018, according to Euro monitor International, an independent market researcher. The market for processed food was valued at $9.8 billion in 2013 (Rahman, Sep 2015).
Dairy, poultry, baby food, noodles and pasta and confectionery performed extremely well, while sales of sauces, jams and juices also grew significantly. Euro monitor valued the soft drinks market at $235 million in 2013, registering a compound annual growth rate of 18 percent between 2009 and 2013. Soft drinks are forecasted to see a compound annual growth rate of 15 percent over 2013-2018.
We can see that food processing sector has become a “thrust sector” for Bangladesh as it contributes 5% of total GDP in Bangladesh. If we can preserve, process and produce at right time with right way, then this sector will help to increase not only the GDP growth of Bangladesh but also help to contribute for Bangladesh becoming as a developing country in the upcoming years.
How far is Bangladesh from achieving self-sufficiency in the dairy industry?
The Daily Star
If we take into account the outlook for 2030, Bangladesh needs additional six million tonnes of milk. With the current deficit of six million tonnes and additional requirement of six million tonnes, in the next 12 years, Bangladesh needs to produce 12 million tonnes of milk. With the current rate of production, will Bangladesh be able to produce an additional one million tonne per year? The lack of land availability, limited feed and fodder, and lower milk production efficiency are key constraints for increasing milk production. Achieving self-sufficiency would be quite challenging for Bangladesh unless we take a holistic approach to increase milk production.
Recently, several news outlets published news regarding increasing dairy tariff which seemed to be their sole concern. However, tariff-related activities were not linked with the real developments. There is a controversy surrounding the dairy chain—whether tariff reduction or tariff increase is an effective way to develop the dairy sector.
Tariff reduction is associated with increasing overall national welfare and consumer benefits, and decreased farm incomes of small-scale household farms. The current skimmed milk powder import tariff is 25 percent. In the proposed budget for FY2019-2020, it has remained about the same but farmers are demanding a tariff increase to 50 percent. They believe that it would be a safeguard for dairy farmers.
Thus, it is quite clear that only emphasising upon milk tariff reduction is not an effective way to develop the dairy sector. The government has to ensure that all stakeholders live up to their responsibilities. Increasing the tariff may provide benefits to a certain segment of farmers but there is a real risk that the country may face a lack of investment and nutritional security may also be under threat. As a result, consumers’ welfare will be ignored. Achieving self-sufficiency can only be possible when and if all the stakeholders work together and respect each other’s position in the dairy value chain and work towards a common goal.
Dairy industry in Bangladesh: Prospects and roadblocks
The Daily Star
Today, an increasing number of people are shifting to packaged or powdered milk in their quest for safe food. At the same time, processors have increased processing and expanded their footprints in the urban landscape.
Now, more than half a dozen milk processors are processing 10 lakh litres of fresh milk daily, which is more than double the amount they could process a decade ago. And organised milk processors, gradually encouraged by business prospects arising out of increasing demand for milk and milk products, are increasing the volume of processing.
“With a change in food habits, we find that there is growth of milk consumption every year,” said Md Muniruzzaman, executive director of PRAN Dairy Ltd, a concern of the country’s biggest agro-processor Pran.
Pran, now the market leader in UHT (Ultra Heat Treatment) and pasteurised milk category, entered the sector in 2003 sensing immense potential in the dairy sector because of a deficit in domestic milk production against demand. As a result, the country has to import more than 100,000 tonnes of powdered milk and dairy products by spending Tk 2,000 crore a year, according to data by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics and Bangladesh Bank.
Industry insiders have said that this huge supply-demand gap offers business prospects as there is scope to increase milk yield per cow in the country as there is a high density of cattle population.
The World Bank, recently in a document, said growing demands for animal source food, a high density of cattle population, very high potential for productivity improvement, agro-ecological conditions favorable to feed production, availability of crop residues, and a culture of mixed crop-livestock farming represent assets the sector can build on.
Dairy sector: A global view
The Financial Express
Global milk production is now estimated to expand by a slower pace, far slower than in the recent past. Growth prospects have been affected by a number of factors as international markets have been responding to the historically high international price levels of the past couple of years. On balance, prospects for the world’s six major milk product exporters, which cater 77 per cent of global trade, have improved somewhat in recent months. Their milk production is now expected to hover around 40 per cent of global production. But production growth is slowing in some regions, due to high feed prices and high opportunity costs for pasture. In some areas, new issues have surfaced that may affect consumer demand.
In particular, food safety concerns are currently clouding the dairy outlook. Dairy products [which include milk, butter, cheese and eggs] make up 0.8 per cent of world trade.
In terms of US dollars worth of dairy products exported (net), New Zealand has the highest per person earnings at US$ 641 a year. Dairy produce from New Zealand is exported to 140 different territories. Overall, less than a quarter of the world territories have net dairy exports. If the current trends are of any indication: commodity-wise and country-wise picture reflects not a very rosy picture. Skim milk powder exports are now expected to rise, particularly due to recent increased exports from the United States, which was larger than expected.
International cheese trade continues to grow and is by far the highest value market for milk products; exports are expected to go up steadily. Exports from the European Union are expected to fall. The United States increased its exports of cheese and reduced its imports during the recent price spike and it is uncertain whether this situation will be sustainable as its dairy sector slows under falling domestic prices and high feed costs. On the import side, most of the growth in trade occurred within the Russian Federation and the growth of this market will depend on how the country fares in the current economic conditions.
The reduction of production growth in China may be critical in the longer term for world dairy markets. If domestic demand continues its pace, imports could grow significantly. However, the discovery in mid 2008 that melamine had been blended into a significant portion of the Chinese milk supply to enhance the protein content of watered down milk has cast severe doubts over China’s dairy sector, including its growing product export potential, but also suppressed consumer confidence worldwide, especially in developing countries. Elsewhere in Asia, strong output growth is forecast in the large traditional milk producers: India is expected to sustain its normal growth, while Pakistan looks set to increase production as high internal prices have stimulated investments in the sector. However, all of Pakistan’s increased production will be absorbed domestically.
South America is all set to be the fastest growing milk production region. Argentina’s milk production growth has been limited by lower returns due to large export taxes on milk products, whereby taxes are adjusted to maintain lower domestic prices. This policy induced some milk producers to participate in national strikes and blockades in early 2008. Brazil may soon be the second largest exporter in the region or even the largest if current trends continue over the next several years.
Promising prospects in Agro-processing sector
Exporters’ effort to create innovative exportable products and robust marketing have helped processed foods win the hearts of Bangladeshis in the Middle East, Europe and other parts of the world, say industry insiders.
Export earnings from agro-processed food has grown 97.31 per cent to USD 291.82 million in first quarter (July-September) of the current fiscal year (2018–19), up from USD 147.90 million a year ago, buoyed mostly by a stream in the exports of dry foods, tea, fruit juice, biscuits and rice.
AFM Fakhrul Islam Munshi, president of the Bangladesh Agro-Processors’ Association (BAPA), said the demand of Bangladeshi agro-processed food, especially dry food, was increasing in different countries of the world as a change in the attitude of expatriate Bangladeshis helped to increase export earnings.
The demand of agro-processed foods is not only increasing internationally but also in the domestic market over the past few years, says the BAPA president.
Citing the reasons behind the soaring growth, he said, “The country has an enormous prospect globally in this sector because we don’t have to import the raw materials such as grains, vegetables, meat, honey, and rice of agro foods from abroad. All the raw materials are available within the country.”
Citing an example, he said, “The price of raw potato per kg is Tk 15, if we process the potato into finished product like potato chips, then 15 gram potato would cost at Tk 15. Eventually, it means 1 kg of raw potato can be sold at Tk 1,000 by only by adding value.”
So, value addition is very important, he says, which means the process of changing or transforming a product from its original form to a more valuable commodity.
Value-added agriculture entailed changing a raw agricultural product into something new through packaging, processing, cooling, drying, extracting or any other process that differentiates the product from the original raw commodity, he explained.
Another reason of the export growth, he said, was the 20 per cent government incentive on agricultural products.
Cold chain deserves more attention in Bangladesh
The Daily Star
The current practices of vaccine transportation violate WHO standards frequently. Monetary loss and health hazards are the detrimental consequences of the lack of awareness. Apart from perishable food items and vaccines, ice-cream and dairy products too require flawless refrigerated transportation and repository.
An integrated cold chain with necessary cold storage facilities at major locations can address all the issues to ensure non-decayed food and vaccine availability. We have estimated that the cold chain market size of Bangladesh may be around USD 1.3 Billion.
The government should be more attentive towards this case, and as per our study (conducted by me and a group of my classmates at Dhaka University’s IBA) there are monumental prospects for private investors in this industry.
Mini Cold Storage for Vegetables and Fruits
The Daily Sun
Bangladesh is predominantly an agro-based country and agriculture sector contributes about 17 per cent of the GDP, employs over 45 per cent of labour force (BBS, 2015). According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS, 2010), annual productions of vegetables, and fruits were 10,923 tons and 4,525 tons, which increased to 12,983 tons and 4,677 tons respectively.
In the global climatic zones, Bangladesh is a tropical country where average daytime temperature ranges between 23 degrees Celsius to 34 degrees Celsius. Seasonal vegetables and fruits require storage refrigerated warehouse facilities (called as “Cold Storage”). Most vegetables and fruits are preserved at variable temperature between 30 Celsius to 50 Celsius for marketing off- seasons at a higher price in major urban markets such as Dhaka and Chattogram (many perishable products such as tomato, carrot, green chilli, beans, cauliflower, & mango may be sold off-season at profits ranging, 100-500 per cent). Nevertheless, there is an acute shortage small cold storage to preserve vegetables and fruits which results in loss and damage of 25-45 per cent perishable produces in Bangladesh (BBS, 2015).
According to report of Statistical Portal (2016), production of fresh vegetable and fruits is highest in Asia (251.57 million tons), and China alone produce 169.23, India (33. 22), Africa (19.72), Europe (10.62), and America (7.62) million tons.
To turn loss and damage into profit, the Government of Bangladesh encourages dissemination of mini cold storage with solar and other alternative power back through SREDA (Power Division). With the Govt approval, PKSF has granted finance for two pilot plants which will be installed (6-8 tons capacity) to ensure development of income generating activities among farmers and middlemen suppliers of safe food. Successful operation of pilot solar mini cold storages will encourage hundreds of new investors to invest for the purpose.
Juice& Beverage Industry, A Potential Emerging Sector
We’ve a definite food habit which may little differ according to the local geographic variation. Almost all of us are habitual of taking same kind of food. Nevertheless we occasionally taste foreign food items in different restaurants. So different foreign food companies started their business in Bangladesh. Beverage industry is one of them. But more interestingly we don’t know beverage is also our cultural food because beverage doesn’t mean only carbonated drinks. Yoghurt, soup and lacchi are also beverage of our tradition which we consumed for last 100 years. But carbonated beverage is new in Bangladesh. It entered into our market in the later part of 1980. At that time there were only few companies in Bangladesh. But by the change of time and western culture influences it’s become very popular in Bangladesh. By year 2000 more than 12 Beverage Company operating business in Bangladesh and most of them are foreign companies.
The market structure of the beverage industry in Bangladesh is oligopolistic with few firms dominating the market. They are Transcom Beverage Limited, Partex Beverage Ltd, Akij Food & Beverage Ltd, Agricultural Marketing Company Ltd (AMCL), Globe Soft Drinks Ltd. The beverage market is dominated by Transcom Beverage Limited with the 41.10% market share. Coca Cola is holding 28.40% and 11.50% market share is being held by Akij Food & Beverage Ltd as per data obtained from Nielsen Report dated February 2015. Pepsi, 7UP, Mirinda, Slice, Mountain dew, RC Cola, Virgin, Uro Cola, Coca Cola, Sprite, and Pran Cola are the major producers of soft drinks in Bangladesh. The other beverage producers are Akij Group (Speed, Wild Brew, Firm Fresh, SPA, Mojo, Clemon, Lemu, Fruitika), Agriculture Marketing Company Limited (Pran), Partex Beverage Limited (RC Cola, RC Lemon and Lychena) and Globe Soft Drinks Limited (Uro Cola, Uro Lemon). The market share of the soft drinks in Bangladesh, Coca Cola has now positioned itself as the top brand. According to a survey carried on December 2014, Coca Cola’s market share in Bangladesh is about 60.30% while for Pepsi it is 13.10% and for Mojo it is 23.60% (only cola). The survey has also revealed that 56.20% market share is occupied by Mirinda, 30.10% is occupied by Fanta and rest of them by others. If it is categorized by clear beverage items then 48.20% market share is occupied by 7up, 18.30% is by Sprite, and 14.30% is by Pran up. The survey also reveals that 50% of the market is occupied by international brands while the rest of 50% by local brands. In terms of juices, Pran has already earned a good reputation but its cola drink has yet to make its position. Mojo is another brand expanding in a rapid rate as it is the symbol of the young people and the bottle size is appropriate to the customers and now a day’s others are following their norm. Energy drink is a new thing in Bangladeshi market and they try to explore a new world of taste, flavor, and feeling and finally ensure the quality of new drink in the market. It is new but it is very attractive and potential to the customer and that’s why the market value and market share is increasing day by day. So it is a great opportunity for a soft drinks marketer to enter the market and gain a lot of profit to ensure the customer satisfaction. Some energy drinks available in Bangladeshi market are Sting, Speed, Royal tiger, Braver, Black Horse etc. Within the last 15 years a good number of producers have come up in the market with bottled water. The demand for purified/mineral water is increasing day by day as the people are becoming more health conscious and purchasing power of the people has also been strengthening. The notable brands are Mum, Aquafina, Fresh, Pran, Jibon, Iceberg, Duncan’s, Spa, Shanti, ACME, Aqua Mineral, Everest etc.
Biscuits and Confectioneries Industry of Bangladesh
Light Castle Analytics Wing
Whether it’s milk, chocolate, plain, or cream filled, Bangladeshis loves biscuits, and it’s been driving a 15% annual growth rate in the country.A burgeoning middle class in particular, fueled by greater purchasing power, have turned to biscuits as the go to snack demanding both quality and low prices, leading to businesses turning to automation in order to scale and meet growing demands. Currently the market size of biscuits and confectioneries in Bangladesh is around $597-717 mn with big name brands holding 40-50% of the total market share. Net export earnings of biscuits stood at $80.41 mn in the first 6 months of the FY18-19, almost double of last years annual figure ($43.09 mn), and is forecasted to triple in the next few years.
Of the total market value of the industry, around $358 mn belongs to big name branded biscuits such as Olympic, Haque, Danish, Nabisco, and Bangas. According to Bangladesh Auto Biscuits and Bread Manufacturers’ Association (BABBMA), total annual production of biscuits currently stands at an excess of 65,000 MT. The biscuit and confectionery market is forecasted to grow at 15% over the next 10-15 years, 5% greater than the government’s target for GDP growth.
For FY19, wheat imports are forecasted to grow to 6.5 MMT as a result of growth in processed and bakery products consumption. This is largely due to the emergence of biscuit and confectionery factories complemented by expected higher global production and lower prices according to a USDA report. Over 80% of Bangladesh’s wheat consumption comes from imports of which the private sector currently purchasing over 90%. According to the Ministry of Food, the stock of wheat, a key raw material for the market, has also more than doubled from 177,710 MT to 364,390 MT from 2017. Consumption is forecasted to grow to 7.7 MMT in FY 19 driven by increased consumption in processed foods from wheat flour.
Recently the country saw a reduction in the 40% duty on sugar imports from India, the world’s second largest producer. The sugar mills in Bangladesh currently hold 139,000 MT of sugar in stock. As a result, the prices of sugar may decrease at a greater rate than last year estimated at 8.7% according to Trading Corporation of Bangladesh. In FY 18, consumption of sugar was 2.695 MMT, a 20% growth from the year before, in FY 19 it’s expected to rise to 2.98 MMT.
What of the bread and butter of our bakers?
The Daily Star
Apart from the 60 big factories listed with Bangladesh Auto Biscuit and Bakery Manufacturers Association (BABBMA), there are approximately 5,000 semi-automated or manual small bakeries. Bakers like Belal constitute informal workers who do not have the legal protection and benefits enjoyed by workers in the formal sector. They work in small factories, where the number of workers is less than 50. Despite years of experience, they have low levels of skills and productivity, with no training or scope for innovation. They have all but accepted that they have to work long hours in return for a paltry and irregular income.
The safety conditions in these factories are atrocious, to say the least. Most workers don’t use heat resistant safety gloves while handling the hot surfaces of warm trays, ovens, and cooking pans. Moreover, according to Professor Dr Shahriar Hossain, chief executive officer at the Environment and Social Development Organisation (ESDO), no standards are maintained for how many hours a worker can work at a stretch in the oven of a baking factory.
“For example, for the types of ovens used here in Bangladesh, the standard practice is to use them for two hours. After this period, a worker needs to take a break for half an hour or more. In these bakeries, workers work for nearly 12 hours at a stretch and an overwhelming majority of them don’t get any significant time off, except for dinner. Such long and unusual working hours cause physical and mental fatigue,” says Dr Hossain.
Though some factories use air coolers to control the excessive heat while baking, these too can do little to lower the heat. According to Belal, those who work in the day shift or are new to this profession cannot tolerate this excessive heat, as a result of which, many faint.
According to Dr Hossain, the constant heat generated by the oven can cause calorie loss from the body, which immediately results in depletion of energy. “Under these conditions, if workers don’t eat enough—or consume the right kind of food—they will suffer from malnourishment, anaemia or headache. The risks increase if they have already developed high blood pressure or diabetes. The vapour they inhale can create breathing difficulties too. Breathing floor dust causes the workers asthma and eye irritation,” he says.
In addition to that, in such factories, the workers are also forced to use different toxic chemicals to make cakes and biscuits to make them look appealing. Most of the time, the workers use the chemicals manually which can easily cause skin diseases. “Apart from that, when the toxic substances enter our bodies through our inhalation process, the food we take, or our lymph nodes, they can cause kidney, lung or other chronic diseases in the long run,” Dr Hossain adds.
Biscuit market grows fast as demand rises
The Daily Star
“The biscuit market is growing mainly because of consumers’ hunt for hygienically prepared foods. It is expected to grow at the same pace in the next 10-15 years,” said Quazi Touhiduzzaman, general manager, sales and marketing of Olympic Industries, the leader in the biscuits market.
The annual market for branded biscuits is nearly Tk 3,000 crore now. The market was earlier dominated by small bakeries. Demand for biscuits is growing as entrepreneurs have shifted to automation in baking and consumers are looking for a variety of quality foods at low prices.
Encouraged by rising demand, particularly from the lower middle and middle income groups, a number of large firms have joined the foray in the last several years. Some old players have also expanded their production capacity.
Recently, Reedisha Food and Beverage Ltd, a concern of Kohinoor Chemical Co (Bangladesh) Ltd, unveiled its plan to cater the domestic biscuit market as well.
Today, nearly 5,000 bread and baked goods makers, including 100 automatic and semi-automatic bakeries, are operating in the segment. Some large firms make biscuits through fully automated machines, said Md Shafiqur Rahman Bhuiyan, president of Bangladesh Auto Biscuit and Bread Manufacturers Association.
“Once, bread was made manually. Those days are over. We are in the automation era now.” Touhiduzzaman said large firms paid little attention to the baked goods market 8-10 years back.
The local firms have been able to win the confidence of consumers by improving food quality and keeping prices reasonable, said industry insiders. As a result, they have been able to sustain their position in the market by driving away imported products from India, Malaysia and Indonesia. Domestic manufacturers now meet 90-95 percent of demand for biscuits; some of them also export biscuits, according to operators.
The Bakery Evolution
No cake analysis can run in the absence of the Black Forest. Every occasion on mother nature’s blessed Earth had to go through the Black forest dressing. From birthdays to anniversaries, every special dayrequired a blackforest cake to start the celebrations. The blackforest age, stretching from the early 2006 to the end of 2013, was a doozy phase with no baking experiments, no innovation or product differentiation – for many bakeries, you just had to make the cake look 60% dark chocolate-y and maybe add a top layer of either vanilla or strawberry because it sells. However, this particular period encouraged a lot of bakeries to open up business and sell blackforest wonders, to only divert the trend away by some crucial, on-point kitchen experimentation and probably the lack of a fresh taste.
Bakeries suddenly became much more than just delicious cakes for occasions. In line with this, the top tier bakeries went out to expand the baking experience even further by adding fast food while maintaining strict health standards. For instance, Coopers’ Bakery abides by international health standards which ensure that they comply according to (HACCP) standards, which stands for global hazard analysis and critical control points. Therefore, the snacking items are baked products too, which are not only good to eat but healthy as well, with minimum oil content. On the other hand, Mr. Baker periodically invites and employs European pastry chefs to design their cake and uphold an overall strict code of health regulations in their kitchens while baking. The adherence to quality control is what evolution really, technically, looks like.
Bangladeshi bakeries have taken up their retailing business seriously. While there are average Tiramisus available in all shapes and sizes, the cake experience got a whole lot better with chefs allowing customers’ to design their own cakes. Places like Mr. Baker, CFC, Coopers’, etc allow customers to pre-emptively design their own cakes or even print a photo on top of the cake. But most importantly, the biggest enhancement to the overall cake experience was put behind making the occasions look larger than life with Coopers’ Signature Cakes line of exclusive cakes that offers limited fondant cakes, or Mr. Bakers’ Dolphin cake, or even CFC’s exclusive celebration cakes. The warmth put behind making the cake shows even in the packaging material, which enhances the cake experience to something so much better with humility on cardboard display. From the 90s’ oily chocolate cake to triple-decker wedding cakes – bakeries internalized a lot and have come a long way to reinvent itself!
The sweet taste of growth
According to information given by industry experts, the local market of candy and chewing gums is worth nearly Tk 1,400 crore at present. This market has been developed with the products of local and foreign brands and local companies. The yearly growth in this sector is 10–15 per cent.
The global candy market has been valued at USD 79.35 billion in 2018, and is further expected to register a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 3.5 per cent during 2018–2023.
Experts say the export market, as part of the confectionery industry, is seasonal with demand peaking in festive seasons. So, great opportunity would open up for Bangladeshi manufacturers and exporters if a robust backward linkage industry could be developed fully.
PRAN Foods Ltd, a sister concern of PRAN-RFL Group, has been marketing sugar confectionery products like candy, lollipops and bubble gums since 2000.
Explaining the reason behind the growing demand, he said that product variation, changing consumption patterns and an increase in disposable income were three reasons contributing to the demand growth of the candy market in Bangladesh.
Talking about product variation, Kamal said that product diversity and innovation was possible because of technological advancement. Companies are importing sophisticated technologies that help to produce products having different tastes, colours and textures.
Responding to a question, Kamal said that Pran exported sugar confectionery to countries like India, Nepal, Australia, Vietnam, Indonesia and other Asian countries.
“Our export has increased, resulting in a 40 per cent growth over last year,” he informed.
Highlighting some of the challenges, he said, “The prices of raw and packaging materials such as foil paper and cookie jar are high and we have to import them.”
Sugar is another prime component of these confectionery products. “We have to import sugar especially industrial sugar from abroad. If we can build the backward linkage industries in this sector, we will be able to easily produce high-end products at an affordable price and add value to our export market as well.”
According to his estimate, the size of the local market is about Tk 1,500 crore.
About the potential of this industry, he said, “The export potential is high, as we don’t yet produce high-end products.”
Kamal added, “We should improve the backward-linkage support to this industry in order to become more competitive in the global market.”
Another local industrial conglomerate company, Partex Star Group’s candy brand ‘Danish’ has its own taste in the candy market.
Talking to The Independent, Soumendra Das, chief marketing officer of Partex Star Group (Danish), said “Currently we produce 12 types of sugar confectionary products in three categories. We started our sugar confectionery production in 2012.
Describing the popular brands, he said, “Our Danish Milk candy and Danish Mango candy are very popular, having a good demand in the market.”
“Our other brands include Danish Green Mango, Danish Lichu, Danish Rich Milky Caramel, Danish Milk Candy, Danish Pineapple Candy etc,” he said.
Responding to a query, he said that Danish maintained quality by doing effective quality control, sourcing good quality raw materials and maintaining healthy manufacturing practices.
When asked whether Bangladeshi candy makers were able to meet the local demand entirely, he said that local demand was subject to various factors like occasions, seasons and demography. Sometimes demand is created by applying a push strategy.
Danish primarily exported to the neighbouring countries, he added.
All Danish Foods Products were manufactured in their own factories at Shimrail, Shidhirgonj, and Narayangonj, he informed.
Perfetti Van Melle Bangladesh Pvt. Ltd. is one of the world’s largest manufacturers and distributors of confectionery and chewing gums.
The company started its business in this country in 1990. In 2006, they built their own factory at Gazipur, where 500 people work at present.
Among its popular brands are Alpenliebe, Mentos, Center Fruit, and Center Fresh.
Among them, Alpenliebe candy and lollipops are found in the market. These candies are available in various flavours like caramel, strawberry and coffee. The popular chewing gum brands are Mentos and the Center Fresh. There are various types of products under these brands.
Olympic Industries Ltd is another notable manufacturer in the candy market. Various flavours made by the local organisation are available in the market. These are: Juicy Litchi, Green Mango, Pineapple, Ripe Mango, Juicy Orange, Tetul candy, Tasty Milk, and Creamy Caramel.
Olympic pulse candies are popular in the market with their pulse mango and tamarind flavours.
Alongside the established brands, Titas, Elson, and Mother Rorsa, a few small candy brands are also available in the market.