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Ice-cream market in India


Ice-cream is typically regarded as a seasonal product, with demand peaking during the summer months. Winter witnesses a sharp decline in consumption and resultant dip in sales and profits. However, with the marketplace teeming with a host of innovative frozen variants, which consumers are enjoying even in the cold months, there is a surge in winter sales.

India’s current ice-cream market is worth Rs 3,000 cr, including the unorganised sector. The branded market has a host of homegrown and international players, namely, Amul, Kwality Walls, Mother Dairy, Vadilal, Cream Bell, Baskin-Robbins, etc, amongst the the prominent ones. Whilst Häagen-Dazs, Baskin-Robbins, London Dairy, New Zealand Naturals, and Hokey Pokey cater to the high-end market, the likes of Amul, Vadilal, Cream Bell and Mother Dairy are available at wide-ranging price points. Lately, the imported concepts such as frozen yogurt and gelatos are gaining popularity. The more recognisable Fro-Yo brands are Cocoberry, Red Mango, and Yogurberry, while Amore, Gelato Vinto and Gelato Italiano are popular gelato brands, and primarily belong to the super premium to premium segments.

However, per capita consumption of ice-cream in India is quite low. R S Sodhi, Managing Director, GCMMF (Amul), informs, “We are still at the level of 400 ml of per capita consumption of ice-cream per year compared to the global average of 2,300 ml. Unlike the West, Indians enjoy a range of other sweet options such as the traditional mithai, but the icecream is slowly increasing its share of the Indian palate.”

Subhashis Basu, Business Head–Dairy Products, Mother Dairy Fruit & Vegetable, says, “Internationally, ice-cream is treated as a habitual intake. In India, the category is more aspirational, impulsive and treated as a relief in the scorching summer months, so it offers immense business potential that is yet to be tapped.”

“Evolved markets are on a different footing. Frozen desserts category is still a long way from becoming a part of diet/food plan of locals. The scenario is gradually changing wherein other than tier 1, 2 and 3 markets are also moving up the consumption ladder,” observes Nitin Arora, CEO of Cream Bell.

Increasing urbanisation, rising incomes, consumer awareness, improved cold supply chain, growing deep freezer penetration, and growth of modern format retail facilities are giving a fillip to the country’s frozen desserts business, which is highly capital intensive.

Ice-cream is one of the fastest growing food categories in India. Notably, the business is seasonal in nature with April to June being the peak season and November to January the lean months. Sales slacken during the monsoons also.

In recent years, consumption of ice-cream and other frozen novelties in winters has been on the rise. A mix of factors is responsible for lessening the seasonal impact and contributing to the overall growth of the country’s ice-cream industry such as changing consumer perception, capturing regional variations, diverse consumer segments, favourable retail location, product range and innovation, festivities, and marketing and promotions.

Currently growing at 12-15 percent annually, the future prospects of India’s ice-cream market seem promising for manufacturers, suppliers and retailers.  A number of regional players have also started expanding. The entry of new players will further intensify the struggle to get a bigger market share.

About the Author
Namita Bhagat has an academic background in management and finance. She writes on the retail and franchise business in the Indian and Middle East markets, besides which, her line of work spans branding, media & public relations.