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Hot summers are translating into cool business for ice cream brands

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Shiv Joshi
Shiv Joshi
An editor with over 20 years of experience across industry verticals and content formats from tabloids to magazines, he is the Deputy Group Managing Editor at Images Group.

Thanks to the rising mercury levels and heat waves sweeping the country, ice cream brands are expecting a 20%-40% increase in sales this Summer

Mumbai: With the mercury soaring across the country, ice cream companies are experiencing a surge in demand for frozen products, leading brands told IndiaRetailing.

According to a study published in the science journal Nature, 2023 was the hottest in 2000 years. And according to experts, 2024 might just be worse. In April, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had predicted an above-normal summer in terms of heat. And the forecast is turning out to be on point.

On 13 May, Delhi recorded a maximum temperature of 40.2 degrees Celsius, a degree above the normal for this time. The temperature in the capital city was expected to rise further during the week indicated IMD.

The situation is no different in other parts of the country. On Wednesday (15 May), Mumbai recorded a temperature of 37.6 degrees Celsius—3.7 degrees above normal, making it the hottest day for the metropolis in a decade.

The rising temperatures are leading to a spike in demand for cool and frozen products like ice cream. Usually, March to June is considered the peak season for ice cream in India, with the summer months contributing 50% to 60% to the year’s overall sales. September to November show a mini peak as demand for the category directly corresponds to mercury levels.

However, such has been the demand this season that Mumbai-based D2C ice cream brand Go Zero has sold more than 2 lakh litres of ice cream this season so far. “It is 3X compared to last season for us,” founder and chief executive officer Kiran Shah shared.

The D2C ice cream brand is available in nine cities through quick commerce platforms Blinkit, Zepto, Instamart, Swiggy, Zomato and BigBasket and its website.

“We are seeing a double-digit growth across all sales channels. We have seen a significant surge last few weeks, especially post-election days in the city,” said Srinivas Kamath, Director at Mumbai-based Naturals Ice Cream, which operates in over 40 cities through 175 stores and 70 Cloud Kitchens.

Not just retail sales, but sales of ice cream in the HoReCa (hotels, restaurant and catering) segment too is experiencing a surge in demand.

Mumbai-based Gokul Ice Creams, which primarily supplies to the HoReCa segment, has sold over 5000 kgs of ice cream between January and April 2024, up from 3500 kgs during the same period last year—a 1500 kgs increase. The brand also has one 1,000 sq. ft. store in the city.

A trend that stands out this summer is the channel of sale.

“We are seeing heatwaves across cities, leading to e-commerce outgrowing walk-ins during daytime,” Kamath said. “Due to the heatwave, day part walk-ins have been affected but delivery sales are growing. Consumers are preferring to order in, during the day. Delivery e-commerce is growing above 20% Y-O-Y,” he added.

According to Mohit Khattar, chief executive officer of Mumbai-based Graviss Foods Pvt. Ltd. which operates the US-based Baskin Robbins brand in the country, various other factors contribute to the growth of ice cream in summers. “Summer coincides not only with rising temperatures but also with school vacations, the holiday season, salary increases and increments and more. In general, it is the season for enjoyment and happy vibes and nothing can help savour the moment better than ice creams,” he said.

The brand has a presence across more than 280 cities across all regions in India as well as in neighbouring countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka and Maldives through over 950 exclusive brand parlours. Additionally, the brand has a strong presence across all leading modern trade stores, general trade stores, quick commerce and delivery-based aggregator platforms as well as hotels, restaurants, coffee chains and multiplexes.

However, this season reveals a change in preference for flavours. While mango remains the best-seller, the second contender is tender coconut.

Kala jamun is also among the best-sellers for Gokul Ice Creams, for Go Zero, the best-selling products this season are duets—Mango and Raspberry.

For the 1984-established Naturals Mango with pieces in scoop and family packs or tubs, mango shakes and sundaes are top-selling items.

For Baskin Robbins, demand this summer is strong not just for Mango-based products but also for chocolate-based products and classics like Pistachio Caramel, Butterscotch and Vanilla as well as other fruit-based products made with strawberry or black currant. “This year, amongst our new offerings we expect a strong showing from our Nutella slab sundaes, our kids-centric lollipop sundaes that combine ice creams and lollipops as well as some of our new flavours including the brown biscuit boba – a flavour that India will experience for the very first time,” Khattar said.

Both Khattar and Kamat expect the demand to be sustained during the balance of the season as temperatures are expected to remain on the north side of the scale.

“We are targeting to grow at least at a 20% clip over the previous year,” said Khattar of Baskin Robbins speaking about the summer of 2024.

Naturals too expects to grow by 30%-35% this season over last year. “We grew by 30% in 2023 compared to 2022,” Kamath of Naturals Ice Cream shared.

“The year 2023 was very, very good in terms of business. This summer, we expect 40% more sales compared to last year,” said Ganesh Kamath, managing director of Gokul Ice Creams.

Khattar is confident of a 15-17% growth this season for the industry.

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