Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consultants Inc, Bangalore
The ice cream industry finds its origin from the small-scale industry. For decades, ice cream was not allowed to dominate other than small industries. Joy, Kwality, Vaadilal grew in their own regions. Today, ice cream or the frozen dessert industry has morphed into the premium category. In fact, it is on top of the pyramid agenda in India. It is a premium item and the industry is creating space for many new brands including the international market. It is also interesting to note, that there are lot more exciting variants rather than just the old vanilla flavour. There is a yen in the industry to think beyond the milk, sugar and cream. Now there are nuts, fruits and other mixtures added and there's lot more variety. In the flavour route, organic and natural ice creams are at the top end and are increasingly becoming popular.
Despite so much action in the category, I believe ice creams are a local taste and it is quite impossible to map the 640 odd palates in India. People in different regions will like different flavours and the ice cream industry cannot be a ration shop like FMCG products. Niche players will do well all the time. For example, gelatos - the non-creamy ice creams have caught on with the Indian audience in a big way. Ice cream is a complex business and it is difficult to sustain one favourite brand for a long time.
The growth in the ice cream industry is around 14-15 per cent per annum - which is quite good. Ice cream is a young category in the country and the scope is immense. I am not sure how many international players will come into India, but if you are looking at a Join Venture, ice cream is the easiest route to take. Profits can be as much as 60 to 200 per cent in the ice cream industry.