Summer, definitely not the most wonderful season in the country. Days are long and hot—not the perfect conditions outside, but we must carry on with our daily lives: go to class, work, or just run daily errands. In such conditions, we would do anything to cool ourselves. And what's better than a dripping cone of ice cream? During this Ramadan, after a long period of fasting, the body might crave sweets. Ice cream can be a right choice for low-calorie dessert in your Iftar menu.
It's cold. It's sweet. It's creamy. And when the flavour bursts in your mouth, all of a sudden that tiredness, stress and worry are magically left behind. Ice cream is an incredible way to refresh yourself. It's a treat to be treated with ice cream no matter your age, place, or time.
Nowadays, there are plentiful choices that make picking your favourite a little difficult. Igloo, Bellissimo, Kwality, Polar, Zaa n Zee—there are now numerous ice cream brands in Bangladesh that let you choose your own way of indulgence. But have you ever thought what the industry looks like? How much of an “ice cream nation” are we?
According to recent statistics, the ice cream industry is growing at a rate of 12 percent every year. To add to that, brands are bringing in new products which often stir things up completely. New types and flavours do not only bring joy to the consumers but also incentivise other brands to do better. Therefore, premium brands are making efforts to keep up with the race and are looking to target the middle- and upper-class citizens of the country to maximise sales.
However, there are challenges as well. “In the ice cream business, the profit margin is low. It's a minimal margin business,” said the General Manager of Abdul Monem Limited's Igloo Ice Cream Kamrul Hassan. He also added that even though the industry is growing, the amount of ice cream people buy in a month is pretty low. He said, “In a month people tend to buy one box of ice cream for their family.”
In the age of social media, people are becoming more aware of their health, for example, the side effects of sugar are now a big factor that many take into consideration. So, to keep in mind all that and reach your consumers at the same time is a big challenge for the industry. For a product like ice cream, all the ingredients and flavours must be just right thus more often than not, most of the ingredients have to be imported. One such key ingredient is soy milk, which is imported due to unavailability of locally produced high-quality soy milk.
Kamrul Hassan added, “One of the biggest challenges in the ice cream industry is the cold chain.” This means that the ice cream needs to be at a temperature of around -18 to -22 degrees Celsius to keep it from melting. It's called a cold chain because this temperature needs to be maintained from the time it is made until the time it is distributed to the retail stores. Furthermore, refrigerators also have to be imported and supplied to the stores for free because those fridges are not made in Bangladesh and the retailers do not have the money to pay for it.
With changing times, the brands are also changing their sales and marketing policy. Generally, ice cream manufacturers either sell ice creams in ice cream parlors or takeaway single or family packs through traditional distribution channels. But now they are willing to be more and more “digital” in reaching their customers. Social media is also playing a huge role in this regard.
With time our palates are changing as we crave newer and different flavours of ice cream. The ice cream industry is certainly doing a remarkable job at boosting people's liking for ice cream by broadening their range of products. As a result, the previously plain chocolate and vanilla flavours have now turned into exciting combinations of blueberry yoghurt, mango melody, and pistachio passion. So that at the end of the day, we all relish ice cream for the joy and fulfillment it brings with every scoop.
RAFAEAL hOSSAIN rAKIN is a contributor to The Daily Star.