After slugging it out in the health and wellness snacks and beverage categories, FMCG companies are gearing up to out do each other in ice creams.
All major players in the Rs 1,200-crore (Rs 12 billion) ice cream market are set to adorn a health-oriented look this year by offering more such products.
Amul, the market leader in the ice cream space, has already launched probiotic health and wellness ice creams and is also offering sugar free variants.
"We are switching to natural vanilla flavouring apart from adding new variants to our wellness ice creams to add to our health and wellness initiative this year," says R Sodhi, Chief General Manager, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation.
Mother Dairy, a subsidiary of the National Dairy Development Board, has decided to expand its naturally flavoured offerings along with its new packaging.
"Innovation is the key to growth in this segment," says Paul Thachil, CEO, Mother Dairy India.
The company expects better sales this summer as it is expanding business to cities like Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore as well as in North India.
The company is looking at adding more natural flavours to its portfolio. The company is also betting big on fruit juice bars to cater to the growing number of conscious consumers.
Last year, FMCG major Hindustan Unilever introduced Moo ice cream under the health and wellness umbrella. Moo, a combination of chocolate and vanilla, is targetted at children and mothers because of its health credentials -- each stick has calcium equivalent to one glass of milk.
"We will continue to drive market development and growth through exciting innovations and consumer promotions. For the summer season, we have several exciting plans and activities to target key consumer groups -- kids/teens and families," says Sailesh Venkatesan, Category Head (ice cream business), HUL.
HUL has 9 per cent market share in the Rs 1,200 crore (Rs 12 billion) ice-cream segment, while Amul enjoys 37 per cent share. While HUL has focussed on cities and impulse products like Cornetto, Amul offers a bigger portfolio that helped it penetrate the rural market aggressively.
Aavin, a Tamil Nadu-based cooperative sector milk and dairy products marketer, has also launched a low-sugar variant of ice creams.
The ice cream 'without added sugar' is ideal for diabetics and safe for children and mothers-to-be, claims the company. The variant is said to have just 80 calories and has 16 mg of sweetener against 8,000 mg of sugar in conventional ice creams.