The wholesale dry fruit market at APMC in Vashi, which is usually buzzing with activity as Diwali nears, wears a forlorn look this festive season as corporate clients are missing.
The increased prices of dry fruits and the demand dropping almost to 35 per cent this year as compared to last Diwali are also not helping the situation.
Dinesh Dang, vice-president of the Mumbai – Dryfruits and Dates Association, said: “The corporate clients are simply not there. They are not purchasing the gift packs for their staff and clients. As for the retail customers, they have had to face pay cuts.”
Ramesh Dung, director of Kandhar Traders, explained: “The prices of essential commodities have gone up and hence the common man’s purchasing power has gone down. He is not really interested in buying dry fruits, which are considered a luxury.”
Though there has been a slight spurt in demand as Diwali nears, traders do not read much in it.
“Even if sales peak in the next few days… it is not good enough,” said wholesaler Mukesh Dattani, of Dipak Spices Exports. “The demand in Mumbai is around 50 per cent less than last year’s. Outside Maharashtra, it is hardly 25 per cent of last year’s demand.”
The Mumbai wholesale market supplies to Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Dung said: “There is an overall increase of 15 to 20 per cent in the prices. While almonds cost the same, the prices of pistachio, walnuts and cashew have increased.”
But the pistachios will not taste the same.
Dattani said: “We import pistachios from Iran. This year there was a crop failure, so we got the consignment from California in the US. The quality, of course, does not match that of Iranian pistachio.”
But the traders have managed to keep their losses to a minimum. “Ramzan was a failure for our business this year, as was Navratri. Hence, most traders got limited stock to sell and managed to keep our losses to a minimum,” said Dang.