An artisan making wooden toys. The government is appealing to toy manufacturers to build toys which emphasises upon ecology and psychology.
An artisan making wooden toys. The government is appealing to toy manufacturers to build toys which emphasises upon ecology and psychology.Courtesy: ANI

Make in India: Game on for India's toy industry

TOYS R US

IKEA's decision to source sustainable toys from India latest proof of sector's strength.

Ecology, psychology and technology.

Those are the foundations based on which the Indian toy industry can flourish and scale new heights in the post-pandemic self-reliant era for the country, according to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Our toys reflect reuse and recycling that has been a part of the Indian lifestyle. Most Indian toys are built out of natural and eco-friendly materials. The colours used in them are natural and safe,” PM Modi said while inaugurating the India Toy Fair 2021 last week via video conference.

“I would like to appeal to the toy manufacturers of the country to build such toys that are better both for ecology and psychology. Can we make an effort to make minimal use of plastic in toys and use such material that can be recycled?” he asked, exhorting the industry to embrace the spirit of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat ’ in the toy manufacturing sector.

Indeed, with a prime focus on the reuse-and-recycle culture that has been a part of the Indian lifestyle, toy manufacturers in the country have traditionally used less plastic and more recyclable material in their indigenous products.

Digitally accessible exhibition

Those products were on full display at The India Toy Fair 2021 – the first-ever digitally accessible exhibition that was organized to provide a much-needed boost to the $1.5 billion industry.

Showcasing toys from Ladakh to Ernakulum, the exhibition also showcased the booming gaming industry – with the government launching “Toycathon”, an online toy hackathon for innovative toy/game concepts.

With low per capita spend on toys, the government intends to provide a much-needed boost to the sector by creating sustainable market linkages for traditional toymakers and create a vibrant vendor ecosystem. The India Toy Fair 2021 is one such initiative to bring together investors, businesses, MSMEs and artisans on a common platform to revitalise the industry and boost competitiveness in the sector – with more than 800 exhibitors registering for the event.

Although the Indian toy industry, dominated by MSME manufacturers, is unorganised and labour-intensive, and the high price of raw materials and cheaper imports act as headwinds, the eco-friendly and durable nature of the sector’s products have come under increasing focus amid a flood of cheaper but toxic toys in the global market.

Vendors selling toys in India. In a recent development, Swedish furniture giant IKEA announced that it was looking to scale up sourcing of toys from India for its operations in New Delhi.
Vendors selling toys in India. In a recent development, Swedish furniture giant IKEA announced that it was looking to scale up sourcing of toys from India for its operations in New Delhi.Courtesy: ANI

IKEA steps up for support

Proof of that interest came during the exhibition itself, when Swedish furniture giant IKEA announced that it was looking to scale up sourcing of toys from India for its operations in New Delhi.

The company, which currently sources only cotton-based soft toys from India, is also exploring to expand in some other categories such as wooden toys and was exploring opportunities to partner with several players in the segment, said IKEA India country commercial manager Kavitha Rao.

With low per capita spend on toys, the government intends to provide a much-needed boost to the sector by creating sustainable market linkages for traditional toymakers and create a vibrant vendor ecosystem.

“Because we could be a large buyer and of course, it is contingent on meeting standards and design thoughts... but we feel that there is a great opportunity for us to come together with some potential suppliers as part of the player as well,” she said when asked why IKEA was going to increase sourcing of toys from India. That strategy also sits in sync with IKEA India aiming to have around 12 per cent of sales from kids' range of products in the coming years.

India’s share in the $100-billion global toy market is at an abysmally low 0.5%, and about 85 per cent of the toys sold in the country are imported.

But with events such as the first toy fair and the creation of eight toy clusters with significant investments in that space by the government, it’s game on for India’s indigenous toy industry.

India Global Business
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