Akshat Singhania, Director, Mama Mia! Foods Pvt. Ltd., speaks of his company‘s marketing thrust and initiatives to extend the reach of his brand across the country and become the preferred alternative to high fat, high calorific value ice-creams.
Tell us about your company’s association with the ice-cream business.
Our company, Mama Mia!, was the first to introduce Gelato in India over a decade ago. We are the first company to introduce healthy gelatos in tubs in the FMCG segment. Mama Mia! is positioned as the healthier substitute to high fat, high calorific value ice-creams as we have a much lower fat percentage (under 10 per cent).
What is the range of ice-creams brought out by your company?
At present we have about 11 flavours in 500 ml tubs in the market. These include sorbets and unusual flavours like the black label chocolate, which is a dark chocolate with whisky flavour combination. We will be introducing smaller impulse SKUs in due
time along with a separate product line for our semi-freddos and ice-cream cakes.
What is the target audience for your ice-cream products and which are your major markets?
We are in the mid-premium ice-cream segment with a much healthier nutritional profile and natural flavours. Our target markets include all the metros and Bangladesh, where we see the potential for our ice-creams.
What then has been the impact of foreign players on the Indian ice-cream market?
Foreign players have opened up the market in terms of price ceiling. We have seen a growing demand for international flavour profiles due to increasing exposure of the consumers. As such, the more choices there are for consumers, the better it is for the industry overall. It has forced innovation and encouraged players to differentiate their products.
How would you describe the growth and evolution of the ice cream market in India in recent years?
Ice cream has been the fastest growing processed food segment since the past few years and we expect the momentum to continue. There has been a recent wave of premiumization and we see this as breaking the price barrier in the minds of the consumers, which is beneficial for premium brands such as ours.
How do you look at the business prospects of Indian ice-cream players compared with the foreign brands?
Indian ice-cream players can give a head-to-head competition to global majors in terms of quality. The Indian palate is unique and there are some popular flavours, which global players do not make or manufacture. Thus, local experience and flavour profiling is something that the international players cannot hope to get without spending significant time in the market.
What is your retailing strategy? How many outlets do you have currently?
At present, we have a mix of company-owned stores, and our ice-creams retail in modern trade and also in general trade with mom and pop shops. We have approximately 50 self owned outlets at present.
Which are the latest consumption trends and developments infl uencing the ice cream business?
Newer and more international flavour profiles, naturalness of the product – whether it uses vegetable oils/ fats or is milk fat based – are the major trends that we see developing in the near to long term.
What are the challenges of your business?
Tertiary cold chain distribution is somewhat of a challenge. Consumer education, going forward, will also pose a challenge, which we will have to overcome.
What are your expansion and growth plans?
We plan on being the largest gelato chain in India with a mix of formats and become a full scale FMCG company with multiple SKUs.