‘Chutta nahi hai to toffee le lo’: Is UPI crushing the business of your favourite toffees?

Those days your 'nukkad' chai wala said, "Sorry, change nahi hai, toffee de raha hu"

Ever since UPI or Unified Payments Interface came into existence, our lives have been much easier. Now, every time we go to any general or ‘Kirana’ store, a chai ‘nukkad’, or even a high-end restaurant, most of us make our transactions digitally, thanks to Google Pay or Paytm!

UPI is omnipresent – from cab drivers to valet parking, mall entry to toll payments, electricity bills to LPG booking, it is accepted everywhere now. And, as astonishing as it may sound, even roadside ‘Golgappa wala(s)’ accept UPI payments!

There are many benefits it has to offer, one being how it helps a person to make the exact amount of payment. Let’s make it easier with an example: The pre-UPI era was different. If you had a 100 rupee note in your pocket, for example, and your purchase comes out to be a total of INR 96, either you let go of the change or as we call it ‘chutta’ or the shopkeeper gives you candies in return.

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Not just this, but in many more ways, UPI has revolutionized the payment system in the country, eventually catalyzing economic growth.

However, not many agree with the statement above. On a completely unrelated note, many believe that the rise and growth of UPI have been harsh on the candy makers. To make more sense of it, just reminisce those days your ‘nukkad’ chai wala said, “Sorry, change nahi hai, toffee de raha hu”

And one such person to believe that the UPI has crushed the candy business is the founder of GrowthX, Abhishek Patil, who drew the correlation between candies and UPI as modes of transactions on LinkedIn.

According to Abhishek, “In the early 2010s almost all big Candy players, including Mondelez International, Mars, Nestle, Perfetti Van Melle, Parle Agro Pvt Ltd & ITC Limited reported staggering growth & future prospects. But as UPI arrived, most of these brands have reported a steep decline in sales of toffee.”

He added, “Before UPI, shopkeepers would trade toffees for loose cash, a transaction that wasn’t happening other way round.

These small amounts over days did wound up to becoming large sums of money, as accepted by many buyers in studies. With UPI, all of this stopped. People paid the exact amount that was due with no scope for change, ultimately eating up the daily toffee sales.”

And even blamed the pandemic for accelerating the use of UPIs nationwide – “The pandemic added fuel to the fire. With most of the audience scared of the pandemic, everyone wanted to do contactless payments. This also created a sort of push towards digital payments and toffee went off the picture. No chocolate (toffee) company would have ever thought of finance products as their competition. Toffees were cash substitutes and UPI replaced this requirement and behavior.”

While his argument sounds fair to most of us, it lacks factual backing! It does drive most of us to contemplate how we have also, in a way, contributed to the failure of the candy business, we just cannot turn a blind eye to facts and figures.

According to CapitalMind CEO Deepak Shenoy, this LinkedIn post is quite misleading. He took to Twitter and posted the annual report of a popular candy-making firm in India – Lotte. And if we give this report a sliding glare, we can clearly see that the company reported “bumper sales” in FY22, after having a slightly rough fiscal patch in FY21.

Deepak wrote, “I don’t really think UPI is killing the toffee business. Seems like a figment of imagination. Here are the results of Lotte India, which is largely a boiled candy manufacturer: Their annual report says they were hurt in FY21 from schools shutting down. FY22 was bumper sales.”

Head of Retail Research – HDFC Securities, Deepak Jasani backed Deepak Shenoy in his argument and said, “UPI payments may not be killing toffee business. Toffee manufacturer Lotte India has been reporting growth in sales except for the covid period when schools were shut. FY22 sales were up 18.5 c/o on a low base.”

(The story has been edited by the News Desk)

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