Some people go out of business when the rain comes. Juice, milkshake and sherbet sellers shut shop after brisk sales in the summer. But ice cream is one business that refuses to be intimidated by the monsoon. It survives the season with just a 40 per cent decline in sales.
Ice creams are also an exception to Kerala’s consumerist culture. The market is led by brands made in Kerala, in Kottayam, Kochi, Perumbavur and Palakkad to be precise. Whatever we make, we eat.
About 90 per cent of the ice cream market in Kerala is dominated by companies in the state while multinationals and north Indian companies have to make do with the rest.
You would be surprised to know that many of your favourite brands were actually locally made, including Joy ice cream that brings back memories of your childhood. Lazza, Merii Boy and Uncle John are also native brands that have made a name and a loyal following. Amul and Quality comes from the north.
There is no exact figure to total ice cream sales in Kerala. But the local brands together with Baskin Robbins and London Dairy and other foreign names sell for Rs 400 crore.
The unorganised sector sells another Rs 50 crore, according to the organised sector. They include the vendors on cycles who camp at the gates of schools and parks.
Ice cream is a curious business. The target group is aged between 13 and 35. They are financially independent. Ice cream consumption, if not cravings, decreases after 35 years. Blame diseases and a bulging waistline. People avoid ice cream but lavish on other food items. Even sugar-free ice creams do not stand much of a chance when people try to be health-conscious and see ice cream as the main villain.
Which flavour sells most? World over, people eat more vanilla ice creams than any other flavour. Half of the ice cream sold is vanilla-flavoured. Part of the reason is that vanilla is cheap. When a kid demands ice cream, a money-wise parent can settle for a vanilla. The child later grows into chocolate, butter scotch, strawberry, mango, tender coconut and other exotic flavours.
Like with alcoholic beverages, ice cream flavours also has loyal followers.
Women’s colleges and birthday parties are vital to the existence of ice cream companies. They put up a stall in any function in a women’s college and take home all the money.