What Happened to Mimi Chocolate? The Downfall of Mimi Chocolate

What Happened to Mimi Chocolate?

If you were a kid born in the 90’s, you may remember that childhood love for Mimi Chocolate, a piece of nostalgia wrapped in orange or cow painted black paper. During that time, Mimi is what meant by chocolate to the most people in Bangladesh. It was immensely popular among children and adults as well. However, from the middle of the first decade of the twenty-first century, this popular chocolate gradually began to disappear and at some point it became completely obsolete from the market. 

Overview of Mimi Chocolate

The journey of Mimi Chocolate began in 1965 through the establishment of a factory on a one-acre area of land in Nabisco, Tejgaon. Mimi Chocolate was the first company what makes a chocolate bar in the then East Pakistan Region. After the liberation war, in 1972, Nine nationalized industries including Mimi Chocolate were handed over under Bangladesh Freedom Fighters’ Welfare Trust (BFFWT). According to TBS, the product sales of this chocolate have been increasing since the post-liberation period and it was successfully able to maintain its continuous sole dominance in the market of Bangladesh untill 2000. At that time, the major chocolate bar makers in the world were Kitkat, and Mars Delight, but these brands were out of reach for the common consumers of Bangladesh. Because at that time very little chocolate was imported to Bangladesh keeping in mind the high price and low demand of international brand chocolates. On the other hand, Mimi chocolate was the only company offering chocolates at an affordable price to local people. As a result, Mimi chocolate was very popular with people of all ages, from the young to the old.

Even in the 90’s, the company used to sell chocolate and chewing gum for an average of BDT 6-7 crore a year. Despite its huge popularity, the company began to collapse slowly in the early 2000’s, mainly due to the use of older machines, which increased the production cost of chocolate. On the other hand, the chocolate market became competitive and the sales of this chocolate were declining simultaneously. At one point, it became a loan defaulter. It was hard to keep the company afloat so in 2006, the administration decided to shut down the factory. However, in 2009, the government waived a total of BDT 126 crore in bank loans of all companies under the Freedom Fighters’ Welfare Trust, including Mimi Chocolate. However, Mimi chocolate failed to make its way back to survival. By the year 2014, the company’s annual sales decreased to BDT 15-20 lakh. Finally, in 2018 the government shut down the factory and the compound was leased to a motorcycle company. At the beginning of 2019, the rest of the machines were sold to other companies and the remaining chocolates were removed from the factory. So, what exactly happened to the once most popular company that had to shut down its operation later on.

The average sale of Mimi chocolate and chewing gum in ’90s BDT 6-7 crore in a year.

The Downfall of the Mimi Chocolate

Lack of Modern Machinery

Although the machinery used in the production of Mimi chocolate was imported from Germany, even after being repaired, Machines didn’t work upto the mark. Therefore, the production rate decreases and production costs rise. According to TBS, although a movement was held by the company’s employees to change the machines to keep the company running, the management did not pay any heed. On the other hand, due to the fact that other companies produce chocolate using modern machinery, their production rate was much higher than that of Mimi chocolate. As a result, Mimi chocolate couldn’t produce enough chocolate to meet the customer demand of the competitive market.

Growing Competitors

In the late 1990s, industry giants such as Pran RFL Group, Olympic Industries also stepped into the chocolate market and the chocolate production of the local market keep rising. Aside from that, according to industry insiders, currently, Bangladesh has a BDT 2000 crore candy and chocolate market and 60% of it is dominated by foreign brands. According to Md Abu Sayeed Fakir, the director of the Freedom Fighters’ Welfare Trust, Mimi Chocolate did not have the necessary marketing and distribution strategy to survive in the then growing competitive market. The products of Mimi chocolate were found mostly in metropolitan areas. Despite the high demand, Mimi’s products could not be found in rural areas due to a lack of distribution channels. As a result, Mimi Chocolate has found it increasingly difficult to survive in the market as it is increasingly overshadowed by its local and international competitors.

According to Md Abu Sayeed Fakir, Mimi Chocolate did not have the necessary marketing and distribution strategy to survive.

Lack of Promotion & Branding

When the competitors entered the market, they used aggressive promotional strategies. However, Mimi Chocolate did not focus much on its promotion. In their entire journey from the beginning, Mimi Chocolate released only one TVC with the tagline “Mami Aseni Kintu Mimi Esheche“, which at that time was broadcast on BTV, the only TV channel in the country. Also, Mimi Chocolate promoted a few print ads. Competitors, on the other hand, focused on aggressive distribution and promotion as well as branding, which was completely absent in Mimi Chocolate. Due to the lack of proper promotion and branding, Mimi Chocolate did not get much recognition even among the new generation.

Product Variation

During that time, competitors in the market began offering different types of chocolate and targeting different types of consumers. On the other hand, Mimi chocolate offered only 2 flavors- Milk Flavour and orange flavor. The company did not focus on product diversification at all. As a result, it failed to survive in the then competitive market due to a lack of flavor differences in the product lineup. At one point Mimi Chocolate’s loyal customer base gradually began to shift to other companies products.

Lack of Fund

As the annual sales of Mimi Chocolate continue to decline, the company’s financial crisis begins. Although the company sourced sugar, milk, and palm oil from the local market, few of the raw materials needed to be imported from Malaysia. As sales volume continues to decline and a fund crisis occurs, imports of raw materials required for production have to be stopped.

Lack of Skilled Leadership

The company didn’t have skilled leaders. Apart from that, the future of the company was uncertain as there was a deficiency of permanent employees in the company for a long time. So, they didn’t have any vision of where they wanted to take the company. According to the report published in TBS, at one point in the operation, the then employees of the company protested for the replacement of the old machine but the company didn’t even take any initiatives to look after the matter.

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