Agarbathi makers look for region-specific scents

Incense sticks flavoured with fragrances that are unique to the regions have worked well across India, according to the All India Agarbathi Manufacturers Association (AIAMA).

Achieving a rare blend of history and geography, the incense stick sellers have turned around the market this festive season achieving 20-25% growth over the sales of the previous year. 

Incense sticks flavoured with fragrances that are unique to the regions have worked well across India, according to the All India Agarbathi Manufacturers Association (AIAMA).

While the fragrance of sandalwood and champa has scored over the southern Indian states, north India has favoured the fragrance of rose. Similarly, the eastern Indian states witnessed demand in citrus flavours, the western Indian states preferred mogra (jasmine) flavour to overcome the strong agricultural odour in the region.

Giving an insight into the region-specific scents, Sarath Babu, president, AIAMA told DH, “Dasara and Deepavali is the season of the year when agarbathi plays a crucial role. This year, in every market, the growth was driven by region-specific fragrances. All these fragrances are region specific and their use can be traced to historic times. A little focus on that aspect of the regional markets helped us witness a growth of 20-25% compared to the previous year.”

Babu said, “Sandal has been at the centre of south Indian tradition and considered sacred as well as auspicious. Similarly, owing to its nativity and increased use in temples, champa fragrance is also gaining an upper hand of late.

The north Indian states’ inclination towards rose has its roots in the Mughal period when the region witnessed the intense use of rose-related perfumes imported from Persia and other Arab countries.

The hilly regions of eastern states have always lined with citrus flavour — a tropical fragrance. Further, the western Indian states preferred mongra (jasmine), to overcome the strong odour of agricultural produce like freshly harvested stubble, fermentation of sugar.”

According to market experts, sandalwood infused incense sticks have contributed close to 30% sales in southern markets including Bengaluru. Catering to the markets, that prefer unique fragrances, the industry sources its raw materials only from the established traditional markets.

“Kannauj in Uttar Pradesh has been the single source supplier of gulab fragrance. Mogra is sourced from farmers of Hoovina Hadagali in Ballari district and Nanjangud and Mysuru regions,” Babu explained.

While a few of the fragrances can be obtained from natural oils, several other fragrances have to be obtained through chemical synthesis due to lack of natural resources.

With Christmas and New Year around the corner, the industry which has 300 registered industries and over 400 small players, will witness the growth of another 10%.

Of the Rs 1,000-crore exports from India, Karnataka alone contributes 60%.

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Agarbathi makers look for region-specific scents

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