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IPOH, July 21 -- Who does not know the famous Kampung Kacang Putih in Buntong, here, a choice destination of many locals and visitors to this Kinta Valley city for their favourite nutty snacks produced through generations?
However, the COVID-19 pandemic which has led to the Movement Control, resulted in the business dropping by up to 70 per cent, and the area is deserted without visitors.
A fourth-generation seller, T.Seenivasagan, 27, said missing the presence of visitors including tourists was hard to express and he even felt sad over the unsold varieties of snacks and nearing the expiry dates.
“Sometimes, no one comes to the shop. Only the surrounding residents come to buy in small quantities. It is very different compared to before the pandemic when many tourists bought the snacks in large quantities.
“This has resulted in the production of nuts, murukku and tapioca chips having been reduced and not produced daily as usual since there are no tourists,” he said when met at his shop, which is over 100 years old.
Following the decline in their business, Seenivasagan who is assisted by his wife, G.Ellil Vinootteni, 27, had to reduce the working hours of two of his staff to stabilise the operating costs, although his shop was open from 9 am to 8 pm.
To address the challenges to remain in the industry and business that has been run for generations, Seenivasan had to change his selling strategy under the new norms by focusing on online sales through Shopee, Lazada and FoodPanda.
He added that this method, however, had only helped to increase sales revenue by 10 per cent.
“This is because the chips and nuts that are sent by post are not in the same condition as bought at the shop, as there is a slight change in texture,” he said.
He also makes promotions on Facebook and Instagram for customers to purchase their favourite snacks.
However, he said, the secret family recipes for his products comprising more than 40 types of nutty snacks and chips still had their own loyal fans, especially for the best-selling product, namely, the mixtures with an assortment of fried nuts, pakoda, dhall-based crisps and tapioca chips.
He hopes the COVID-19 pandemic in the country will end soon so that the snack food industry could continue to develop and the area can see the presence of tourists again.
For the record, Kampung Kacang Putih was previously located in the shadow of Gunung Cheroh, a few kilometres away. However, the snack producers were moved to the present site after a tragic incident on Oct 18, 1973 involving a massive rockfall from a limestone hill cliff onto their homes, shops and cattle pens, resulting in the death of 42 people.
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