diwali lights

You’d think a five-day event celebrated by approximately 1.5m people and comprising numerous get-togethers between family and friends would get wholesalers salivating about the additional sales they could generate.

Adrian Troy, head of marketing for AG Barr, says that Diwali represents about £80m in incremental sales, and “a huge profit opportunity for wholesalers and retailers alike”.

Yet despite this, wholesalers, independent retailers and foodservice companies haven’t always seen the event as a focus, despite it being one of the most important festivals in the Indian calendar, celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains right across the UK.

However, this year’s festival kicks off a day before Halloween, meaning that a number of consumers may well plan on buying confectionery goods to cater for both occasions. This makes it very important that wholesalers provide their retail customers with the necessary supplies.

tropical sun basmati riceJag Singh, brand manager at Tropical Sun Foods, says: “Food is a central part of the Diwali celebrations: whether in worship, getting together with friends and family, or dining out. But a challenge is getting the right mix of products and promotions at the right time. For example, there is a balance to be achieved between stocking core volume lines, such as rice, oil, seasonings and flour, and premium lines such as exciting snacks, premium drinks, seasonal sweets and premium confectionery.”

For Singh, one reason why many wholesalers don’t achieve this balance is that “many of them tend not to plan in advance, as they might do for Christmas”. He says Diwali items, both in terms of where they are merchandised as well as price offers, “should be advertised well ahead of Diwali week to drive foodservice firms and retailers in the door to your depot”.

Bep Dhaliwal, trade communications manager at Mars Chocolate UK, points to evidence that suggests her company’s products see an uplift at this time of year. She says: “Seasonal occasions provide additional opportunities for friends and family to get together and share their favourite confectionery, so Mars is encouraging wholesalers to stock up on boxed chocolate, which accounted for 74% of total seasonal confectionery sales last winter, including Diwali.”

AG Barr’s Troy claims that Rubicon makes up three out of every four Asian drinks sales during this period, and is “firmly established as the number one Asian soft drinks brand”.

He adds that the company will be supporting Rubicon in the build-up to Diwali with a range of eye-catching POS material, which will enable “wholesalers and retailers to engage with customers during this key period”.

Boost sales director Al Gunn, meanwhile, advises wholesalers to position his firm’s product as a necessary aid during Diwali. He says: “Diwali is a key period for energy drinks, with potential sales from the mixer market, designated drivers, tired travellers or those simply needing a boost following the excitement of the celebrations.”

Echoing Singh’s geographical advice, Gunn adds: “Wholesalers should have the right mix of products in order to give consumers an appropriate choice, reflecting the local market.”

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