Every third Sunday of July is considered as National Ice Cream Day! This year it falls on July 21. After three months of pause, Naturals Ice Cream has made a comeback while keeping all safety and precaution on priority. In an exclusive conversation, Srinivas Kamath, director, Naturals Ice Cream, elucidates on the pandemic’s impact on the business and the ice cream market in the country
What was the inspiration behind Naturals Ice Cream?
Naturals as a product emerges from kulfi and essentially is truly Indian tasting Ice-cream. This makes the experience of having Naturals scoop richer, creamier and more wholesome compared to any other brand. As Naturals takes great pride in making ice-cream from the churner the same way it began from the start. Natural Ice Cream has grown substantially due to the USP of using only 3 ingredients in its ice-cream which is fruits, milk and sugar.
How does the Indian ice cream market compare to it global counterpart? What are the challenges especially the country’s cold chain infrastructure?
Globally ice cream per person consumption is approximately 2 to 3 times more than India. However, having said that, the ice cream industry is growing 10-14 per cent year on year showing opportunity. Main reason why India is becoming a great destination at present is due to availability of good refrigeration at home and cold chain solutions available for supply, which was an issue earlier. Education is the challenge currently when it comes to supply chain, ice cream and frozen food or products are temperature sensitive and any heat shocks can spoil the product. Time and again brands have invested in training, not only to cold chain teams but also to front-end retail on how to maintain quality.
How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the industry? What support do you expect from the government?
For us at Naturals, it has impacted a lot, as 50 per cent revenue comes during the Summer Season (3 months) which we have completely lost. Post that walk-in would drop at parlours accounting for low sales. Around October we hope business to normalise or be closer to last year’s figures. We are facing logistical issues also at the moment due to the Covid-19 even after Unlock 1.0, as a result we have taken the call to reduce our overall menu to 8 flavours only and also only using Tubs as a product line to make it safe and convenient for our employees, franchise partners and guests.
Contactless, digital, tech enabled…are the current buzzwords…What are your plans to digitise the business?
We have come up with a sleeve (additional layer) that shall be on our family packs with one of a kind “paper soap”. We want to educate safe and hygienic opening and consumption of our ice creams. Also, we planning to start our digital contactless order system at our outlets for take away as well, this shall help to follow social distancing more thoroughly.
We are also undertaking contactless delivery only on Swiggy/Zomato at the moment, we have not yet started home delivery services by ourselves or dine-in for our guests.
What are the future plans for Naturals?
We have just opened our new outlet in Delhi NSP area but it is too early to comment on plans for more expansion. As of now we are accessing the response and working towards normalisation. We had a few stores in the pipeline under renovation. We shall plan to open to open few in a phased manner soon.
New innovative flavours?
Yes, we are planning R&D at the moment and we shall plan to launch soon by August. Naturals Now is the new experiential brand extension of Naturals, one that serves ice cream straight from the churner. It has its own product line.