Your ice cream is getting healthier. Amid the COVID-19 crisis, ice cream makers are offering customers "immunity-boosting" flavours, with Karnataka-based Dairy Day launching haldi and chyawanprash-flavoured ice creams.
Chyawanprash is an Ayurvedic health supplement, while haldi, or turmeric, is a spice commonly used as a medicinal herb in India.
The development comes in the wake of the ice cream sector witnessing a fall in sales during the COVID-19 crisis. Due to the strict nationwide lockdown in place, the ice cream industry lost out on its peak March-June season, which contributes 40-45 percent of the sector's annual sales. The industry estimates that its losses could be as high as Rs 4,000 - Rs 5,000 crore this year.
But it is innovating, and is looking to offer new, immunity-boosting flavours to customers as the coronavirus pandemic refuses to subside and cases mount in the country.
Dairy Day, one of the top ice cream brands in south India, is set to launch a new range called Dairy Day Plus, which includes the two new variants of haldi and chyawanprash ice creams.
“This is the first time in the ice cream industry that haldi is being used,” said A Balaraju, co-founder of Dairy Day.
“We conceived this concept during the lockdown since everyone now wants to boost immunity, and in Indian culture, haldi and milk are traditional immunity boosters,” he said.
The haldi ice cream includes haldi (turmeric), pepper, and honey among its ingredients, while the chyawanprash ice cream includes branded chyawanprash along with dates.
Given the ingredients involved, the company said it will price these products about 30 percent higher than its other variants; Rs 20 for a 60 ml cup and Rs 220 for a 700 ml pack.
The ice cream maker’s research and development team worked 30 days on the trials to get the flavours right for both the products, which are set to be launched this week.
Dairy Day sells its 150 SKUs and 30 flavours through more than 30,000 retailers across Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Goa, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry.
The company, which saw an annual turnover of Rs 300 crore in FY20, is bracing for impact on business from the lockdown, but believes it has strong financials to tide over.
“The annual sales of ice cream industry is Rs 12,000 - 14,000 crore, and 40 percent of annual revenue comes from Q1 of the fiscal year. So there has been a big impact from the lockdown,” said MN Jagannath, co-founder, Dairy Day.
“Dairy Day has raised funds from private equity and we have strong financials. There is a loss but we will be able to overcome it as soon as normalcy comes in,” he added.
Dairy Day counts Motilal Oswal Private Equity as an investor.
Sales have started picking up for the industry over the past few weeks, especially out-of-home consumption, since the lockdown has eased in cities like Bengaluru and others.
“In Karnataka, we are seeing 60-70 percent of usual sales. But on an average, we are doing less than 50 percent across all seven states we are present in,” Jaganath said.
The crisis has pushed the company to also increase the share of online sales, which currently stands at 5 percent, in a limited number of cities. The company aims to take its online distribution number to 20 percent.
For now, the ice cream industry is counting on its immunity-boosting flavours to boost its sales. For customers, there will be a whole new range of flavours, which according to the Dairy Day founders, will offer an easier way for mothers to give their children a spoonful of chyawanprash.