The dairy market and frozen foods sector has witnessed a surge in its growth all thanks to the fast-paced urban lifestyle. Encompassing various products under its umbrella, the dairy industry contributes a major share to the country’s GDP.

Comprising of cream, milk and other milk-based products, frozen dairy products and desserts have been the recent entrants in the dairy industry. Since every individual is on the go and prefers quick services and products that offer easy and quick usage, the frozen foods especially frozen dairy desserts come as a boon and also upgrade the lifestyle of the urban people.

While earlier the Indian dairy market rang the names of Amul, Mother Dairy, other frozen desserts, made us recall names like Nirula’s, Giani’s, Baskin Robbins, Cocoberry, etc. However, off lately with the inception of some start-ups offering unique frozen dairy foods, which are natural, made with pure ingredients, and without the use of additives.

Indian dairy, Frozen Dairy, and Ice cream market growth
The global dairy market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5 per cent to reach USD 703.5 billion by 2024 as per The Cow Boy Channel. As per IMARC GROUP’S report, the Indian dairy market was valued at INR 11,360 billion in 2020. As reported by EMR, it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6 per cent over the period of 2021-2026.

As per ICRA, the ice cream sector suffered a huge dip owing to the lockdown in peak summers along with the safety measure to avoid cold foods and chilled beverages. While frozen desserts and ice creams are often used interchangeably, the ones made exclusively with dairy are referred to as dairy ice creams.

Frozen desserts however are a broader concept encompassing ice creams, frozen yogurts along with other icy toothsome desserts. Since there was a lot of confusion, it was just recently that FSSAI has made it mandatory for the frozen dessert industry to mention on the packaging if that particular product is a frozen dessert or ice cream to help the consumers make an informed decision.

As per MarkNtel Advisors’ report, India Ice Cream Market Analysis 2021, the Indian ice cream market is expected to grow at a CAGR OF 11 per cent during 2021-2026. According to Fortune Business Sights reports, the ice cream market size is expected to reach USD 91,90 billion by 2027 growing at a CAGR of 4.01 per cent during the said period. Additionally, the premiumization of ice creams will be an emerging trend in the sector. Ice creams will be increasingly prepared from rich and natural ingredients and this will be done primarily by emerging businesses and start-ups. The brands on the other hand will be investing their time, efforts, and finances on improvising their research and development activities with an aim to offer healthy foods along with optimal nutritional levels.

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The brands and start-ups at the global level are focusing on the launch of product innovations to help them differentiate from the other players in the market and to create a niche for themselves. A prominent example of this being that in January 2021, Unilever Group launched a double red velvet variant under its Magnum brand. Additionally, other major brands like Amul, Mother Dairy, and Dairy day have also come up with product innovations like camel milk ice cream, along with new flavors and ice cream range with immunity-boosting properties.

While the pandemic led to the dip in the ice cream market in 2020, the sector is expected to pick up the pace and the demand for ice creams in India will witness an all-time rise. Rapid urbanization, growth in the food processing industry, along with the presence of giant players in the sector will be the key factors responsible for its growth. Along with these, increased investment to improve the cold storage infrastructure, growing disposable income, and the increasing popularity of frozen desserts are other contributory factors.

Despite being a recent member of the dairy industry, the frozen foods market especially the frozen dairy segment has witnessed technological developments.

Foray of start-ups in ice cream sector
However, a common notion goes around that frozen foods are packed with preservatives and additives. But not many are aware that due to the technological advancements, preparing natural frozen foods especially dairy products without any additives is no more a challenge. It is very much feasible. The testimony of this statement lies in the fact that there are various start-ups that offer natural frozen foods and frozen dairy products devoid of any additive, preservative, chemicals, or emulsifiers.

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The ice cream and frozen dessert market are highly competitive in the present times. While the ice cream market is dominated by brands, off lately, the industry has witnessed the launch of various start-ups offering unique and natural products. Ventures like Havmore, Habbit, Maverick, just to name a few amongst the many others strive to come up with new flavours and variants to ensure their survival in the highly competitive market.

Their USP is that they thrive to offer delectable taste along with nutrition and come with a healthy mindset. Additionally, there has been the launch of various Greek yogurt, flavoured yogurt, and frozen yogurt along with desserts by the key players as well.

Ice cream and frozen yogurts contribute a major share in the frozen dairy market. However, off lately there has been the introduction of non-dairy ice creams in the sector as well. There has been an increased preference for such foods owing to their health and nutritive factor in the present times where people give utmost importance towards maintaining good health.

Challenge faced by the ice cream sector: Enforcing top notch hygiene regulations
However, a major challenge faced by the ice cream sector in India is the misguidance and misinformation doing the rounds regarding the consumption of chilled drinks and cold foods leading to the increased risk of catching the virus. While the ICCMA made concerted efforts to clear this misconception, these rumours led to the rising of major health and hygiene concerns amidst the public for ice creams and frozen dairy products.

This also leads to increased pressure on both brands and start-ups but more so on the latter as the former are the key players and are recognised for their quality and brand value. They have a vast and existing consumer base and hence don’t have to deal with consumer loyalty issues. However, the start-ups on the other hand need to ensure the following of all the requisite hygiene measures at all levels right from raw material procurement to the packaging so as to instil confidence about their products amongst the consumers.

Strictly enforcing all the required rules at the production and packaging levels will help the organisations to maintain their safety standards. Additionally, third-party food delivery firms like Zomato and Swiggy are also regularly vising the restaurants and eating joints to ensure that they follow the rules and regulations set by FSSAI.

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Some of the very basic yet essential hacks for start-ups in ice cream sector and frozen dairy industry and for any organisation to maintain hygiene and work optimally during the on-going pandemic are :-

•Maintaining personal hygiene levels at an individual level
•Practicing social distancing
•Regular checks before initiating working
•Constant lookout for symptoms and taking immediate actions
Exclusion of Covid infected or suspected patients at the workplace
•Regular and appropriate cleaning of the workplace and the operating zone
•Apt and thorough cleaning of the food ingredients and raw materials

Additionally, every business should have Covid-19 scanning equipment set up in place. This is essential so that any employee exhibiting the symptoms and having a temperature of more than 99 degrees Fahrenheit should not be allowed to enter the workplace and should be refrained from working. Rather they should be provided the required assistance so that he/she can get themselves tested.

Along with this, the introduction of technological advancements to ensure contactless working as much as possible will help in curbing the spreading of the scare and the spreading of the virus.

Tech has indeed revolutionised the working of the dairy and frozen dairy sector in India. With the frozen dairy market turning highly competitive, the dairy start-ups have to deliver the state of the art products to ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty along with securing their consumer base. The inculcation of top-notch hygiene practices will further aid in this objective of successfully developing a good relationship with their consumers. Considering they are start-ups, they need to be careful about their working as this is a make or break situation for them where one mistake could lead to the loss of consumer trust and interest. Having said this, on the whole, 2021 seems to be the year of recovery with the increased preference for frozen dairy products and ice creams by the consumers.

(The author is CEO and founder of Prerna’s Handcrafted Ice Cream. She can be reached at sweet@prernasicecream.com)



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