Come March and ice-cream sales pick up across the country. India, known for its sweet tooth, regales in coolers such as ice lollies, lassi, thandai and frozen desserts. However, unseasonal rains and sudden dips of temperature in Gujarat, seem to have dented the frozen goodies’ sales.
Sharing data, Bhupat Bhuva, chairman, Gujarat Ice Cream Association, shared: “Gujarat is one of the biggest ice-cream markets in the country. We saw a decline of 25% in sales for the months of February and March compared to the corresponding period last year. In 2022, February sales touched Rs 250 crore in the organized players’ market. It came down to Rs 200 crore this year. Also, this year, the March sales — significantly higher than February – grossed Rs 300 crore against Rs 400 crore last year.”
He added that the industry is also reeling under pressure on margins due to increase in prices of raw materials. “Weather has truly played spoilsport. Added inflationary trends across segments have seen a major effect on production and profit margins. Gujarat has a Rs 2,000 crore -cream market and the unorganized players account for 30% of the share,” he added.
It may be recalled that from mid-February till March 10, the weather was warming up. Thereon, the pattern took on an unpredictable swing. Unseasonal rains began affecting sales and the weather forecasts have only left the manufacturers more concerned. Major players in the state usually register around 60% of their sales in the March-June time frame.
Hopeful that May-June bounce back with blistering heat, ice-cream manufacturers are also looking at broadening their reach into the hinterlands. “However, electricity remains suspect. Any provision for storage would need uninterrupted supply of electricity. We will be assessing the power supply patterns to expand our retail base,” shared an official at Amul.
The manufacturers are hopeful about the industry’s future in the coming years due to higher disposable incomes and better electrification across the country.
However, increasing input costs have affected the margins.
“The prices of milk and other ingredients have increased significantly by around 10%. Ice cream prices have increased by around 5%. Margins are under pressure,” added another senior official.