If there is one thing that is traditionally and truly Indian, it is our fervent worship of God and lighting incense sticks twice a day, to please Him. With almost everything in the world going ‘Made in China’ now, the Indian incense stick (agarbatti) industry is going through some serious pressure times.
India’s incense industry has nearly an Rs.1800 crore turnover every year across the world, due to its varied fragrances and smells, but now with Thailand and China exporting their own incense stick as well, our agarbatti industry is under threat. These incense sticks from China and Thailand are packaged keeping in mind its international customers and come with special prayer beads, accessories and in some cases, even agarbatti stands. The Indian agarbatti boxes, on the other hand, seem dull and outdated, despite having been in the market much longer.
The Indian agarbatti makers, of course, have taken the challenge head on- roping in new designs and modern packaging to patenting Indian fragrances; NR group launched Iris fragrances that had African prints or British pastels, making it innovative and modern. Globally, the incense industry is worth around Rs.4000 crore, and India cannot be pushed back here- after all, these fragrances are traditionally and truly Indian.