Last Sunday, Bethlehem Berhane and her five-year-old daughter, Natania Habtamu, were watching a cooking programme on Ethiopian Broadcasting Service.
The programme featured two pastry chefs from a local bakery, Mulmul, which opened its doors in 1999. The chefs were demonstrating baking gingerbread in the shape of a house with walls, roofs and doors.
A Christmas tradition, gingerbreads are handed out as gifts and the chefs announced during the show that gingerbread houses will be available at their bakery as gift packages they are preparing for the holiday.
Young Natania asked her mother to get her the gingerbread made from ginger, cream, honey, sugar and flour. Bethlehem, a housewife and mother of two, did not hesitate to go to a Mulmul Bakery branch near her house in Gerji and order one.
Mulmul Bakery’s Christmas gift package contains the ginger house, candies, chocolates, an English cake, cookies and a Panettone biscuit and retails for 1,000 Br.
"My daughter only wanted the ginger house, not the other items in the gift package," said Bethlehem. On Thursday, she ordered a large ginger house which sold for 2,000 Br and then collected her item on Friday, ahead of Gena, the Ethiopian Christmas holiday, on Monday, January 7, 2018.
Mulmul Bakery, in business for the last 20 years, has made the gift packages available in its seven branches since the beginning of last week.
A fully decorated ginger bread house awaits a lucky customer at Mulmul Bakery in Gergi.
"It took us four months to design and make them ready for sale," said Simret Abate, general manager and owner of Mulmul Bakery.
Apart from the pre-packed items, the bakery takes special orders from clients for different assortments placed in the packages.
"We vary the packaging and items depending on requests made by our clients," Simret told Fortune.
Different companies are engaged in preparing and marketing Genagift packages.
Safeway Supermarket, one of the giant supermarkets in the capital, has a pre-packaged item made up of different confectioneries. Safeway's gift packages contain bottles of wine, chocolates, gum, cookies and biscuits and are sold for between 849.95 Br to 1192.07 Br. Safeway, which put up its holiday items on sale last Monday, has prepared a gift package for school children that includes pencils, rulers and erasers sold for 96 Br.
The price varies based on the size of the packages and the variety of items included in the box.
Edom Million, a 24-year-old employee at a Chinese owned company was at Safeway on the morning of January 3, 2019. Edom and her colleague were at the supermarket to order 70 gift packages for their company - intended to be distributed to employees as holiday gifts.
Safeway supermarket offers bamboo gift baskets at its store in Gerji.
Edom paid 63,000 Br and collected the items on the same afternoon.
"We did the same thing last year. The gifts are easy to handle, beautiful and best when offered to loved ones," said Edom. "
Safeway also prepares different packages that cost up to 2,500 Br, depending on customers’ requests, same contain whiskey, chocolates, biscuits, cookies and gum, according to Meron Abebe, a supervisor at Safeway's Gerji branch.
Safeway also prepared a cosmetics gift package comprising shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and cream lotion sold for 377 Br.
Sunset, another supermarket located in Bole close to Edna Mall and All-Mart, also offers Gena gifts. Presented in a bamboo basket, the gift items also contain wine, candies, chocolates, cookies and biscuits and cost 849.95 Br. All-Mart, a supermarket operating in the capital, also sells a holiday package that costs 950 Br.
Awash Winery is marketing a holiday gift package featuring wine bottles and chocolate bars that it sells for 200 Br.
Last year, Awash Winery teamed ups with Moyee Coffee and Mulmul Bakery to prepare a special holiday gift offering. The collaboration resulted in the sale of 3,200 packages and generated one million Birr.
This year, Awash and Mulmul went separate ways and Moyee Coffee did not offer the packages.
"We started the trend last year with the aim of promoting locally-made gift products," Hiwet Hailemichael, sales coordinator of Moyee, told Fortune. "Now most of the gift packages sold in the market are imported items."
Atlaw Alemu (PhD), an economist and lecturer at Addis Abeba University's Department of Business & Economics, supports Hiwet.
"The gift items in the packages should be locally made. The country should not spend scarce foreign currency to import gift items," he said.
Atlaw also sees that the demand for these items is increasing following the increase in the nation's disposable income.
Bethlehem, who bought holiday gift packages for the first time, loved the ginger house she bought for her daughter. She also believes that her daughter Natania will have a happy Gena receiving what she wished for.
PUBLISHED ON Jan 05,2019 [ VOL 19 , NO 975]
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