MSME

With intermittent hikes in paraffin wax prices, candle manufacturers burn their fingers

Sajeev Kumar | | Updated on: Nov 17, 2021

From April to November, the petroleum companies hiked the prices 11 times, and the wax rates have touched ₹1,32,000 per tonne.

The intermittent hike in the price of paraffin wax, a bi-product from petrol, has pushed candle manufacturers in Kerala into a crisis. Though the situation warrants increased candle prices, the manufacturers have declined the option considering the reduced footfalls in religious institutions and subdued demand.

C.R.Salim Kumar, president of Kerala Candle Manufacturers Association, told BusinessLine that petroleum manufacturing companies have increased the prices of paraffin wax by about 11 times from April to November. The rates have touched ₹1.32 lakh per tonne from ₹31,000.

Fall in consumption

Candle manufacturing is a cottage industry, and more than one lakh people, mainly women, are dependent on it for their livelihood.

When the government controlled the petroleum prices, the rise in paraffin wax price was very nominal, and the government had given special concessions to candles used for prayers in religious institutions. However, after implementing the administrative price mechanism (APM), the fuel companies have ignored the candle industry while hiking the prices of petroleum and other products, he said.

P.J.Jose, vice president of the association said the export market for candles has started picking up after the easing of the Covid situation, and the industry has geared up to cater to the Christmas demand to Europe, the US, Australia etc.

Candles are an inevitable part of European culture, such as partying, prayers, function and gifting, which India could capitalise on. However, the rising freight cost and container shortage is a concern. The rates have touched $7000 to Felixstowe in the UK from the last year level of $1,000, said Jose, proprietor of the Kochi-based Popular Candles.

He said cheap imports from China, Taiwan, Vietnam are posing a threat to Indian products in the overseas markets, for which he sought government intervention. The government should also extend subsidies for raw materials and incentives to export-oriented units for its survival, he added.

The Association also urged the government to consider their plight through instructions to petroleum marketing companies before going ahead with any further hikes in product prices. It also requested the State government to impress upon the Centre for the protection of the cottage industry.

Published on November 18, 2021

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