Cashing in on the Indian consumers’ increasing appetite for healthier foods, US-based frozen yogurt chain Red Mango, is planning to come up with food outlets in India – serving an array of health food options.
The chain, which entered the Indian market in 2012, is better known for its all-natural nonfat frozen yogurt and fresh fruit smoothies. This extension into the food options is as per companies long-term vision to establish itself as a ‘health-based’ brand in India.
“We are trying to reinvent and innovate ourselves in India as we feel Indians today have started expecting, accepting and demanding quality and healthy food options. There has been a lot of change in demand from the time we entered to today and it is growing phenomenally. Therefore, these food stores – in addition to our current offering of yogurt, smoothies, parfaits, among others – will have an array of low calorie, low carbohydrate foods which will be freshly done at our cafe’s and restaurants kitchen,” CEO/MD of Red Mango India, Rahul Kumar, exclusively told Indiaretailing Bureau.
“It will consist of more comfort and on-the-go food items like salads, soups, wraps, burger, sandwiches, handmade pasta, et all, which will be low in calories but extremely high on health quotient. We are also doing a specific health menu which will be called as ‘Fuel’ and will have a full line of high protein and rich food under it. We will be ready to unveil this in the next 45-60 days,” added Kumar.
The company which has over 235 stores across the world, has put its chefs from headquarters in the US working alongside the India team to come up with a menu and products to be served in these stores.
For its food offerings, the company requires stores with a minimum carpet area of 700-800 square feet. Currently, in India, the company operates through two formats: a small kiosk-like format which is not bigger than 350 square feet and a large cafe format; which are as big as 1400 sq ft.
Red Mango’s food concept is currently operational in a few Asian countries and some European countries as well. And Kumar feels India will emerge as one of the important markets in terms of its food offerings.
“Since there is nobody in Indian market who gives specifics about the calorie content in the food they are serving. They just don’t tell what grams of carbohydrates should be consumed in a day or what percentage is needed. This essentially is quite prevalent in the West- where consumers are more informed- but not in India. However, as consumers here get more understanding it is imperative to bring this to them,” noted Kumar.
Health in a cup? Not an easy offering
While plain yogurt or humble ‘dahi‘ has been part of the staple diet of Indians for the longest time, the acceptance and availability of its new avatar (frozen and flavored yogurt) is fairly a new concept in India.
However, with rising disposable incomes and health consciousness, this tangy combination of ice-cream with probiotic yogurt is rapidly finding consumers among Indians. According to a report published by Research and Markets, the India packaged yogurt market is growing at a CAGR of 17 per cent from last three years and is projected to get double by the year 2018 due to rising awareness about the product, increasing disposable income, growing demand in middle-class people and affordable price of yogurt.
While these numbers signal the lucrative potential of this industry, the positioning of these yogurts still remains hazy. Are these a dessert replacement, an in-between snack, or a full meal in itself?
Even, Red Mango – which managed to open only six stores in India in the last four years – also had to deal with these challenges.
“We took a huge plunge entering the Indian market at a time when there was a void in the industry and there was not even a single authentic frozen yogurt product being offered to the consumers. At the same time, there was not much being done to spread awareness and health benefits of frozen yogurt. Therefore, when we entered the market the agenda was to focus on marketing a product as a main meal and positioning ourselves as a health player,” said Kumar.
“Moreover, it is not an easy market to comprehend. Though in the recent years, there has been a preference and shift towards health foods, it is still largely a chola-bhatura driven market. So, the challenge was to remain intact to our core – serving healthy and quality product- and innovating constantly to increase our target consumers in India.” added Kumar.
Though Kumar denied to share its year-on-year growth, revenue targets or expansion plans for India, he said that the company has a long-term vision to promote healthy and clean eating and wants to grow organically on the back of its offerings.
“We are in India for a long-run but we want to take steady steps in terms of establishing ourselves. Our focus is to continue driving positive same-store growth and not most of the people concentrate on that. Over the last four years, many people have asked us about how many more stores or expected revenue. But I feel, the real question in India today is how many stores can you sustain or what is you same-store growth gonna be like or are you innovating? We, as a brand our aspiring to do that in India and this journey from six to sixteen stores will just be a matter of year,” concluded Kumar.