Frozen desserts, which look and taste like ice cream but are made out of vegetable fat, have silently grabbed a 70% share in India’s 10000-crore organised ice-cream market.


Ice cream is something we all love; there might be very few countable people in this whole world that might not be loving ice cream. People from all age groups, from children to teen-agers to adults even the old people in any of the seasons, be it summer, winter or monsoon, love to have ice cream. However, kids are the driving force behind ice-cream purchase decisions in a family. Whatever is the reason for celebration, all the people love to feast upon ice cream? It many a times becomes a sweet dish at the end of the meal. A variety of flavors have entered in the market beyond the traditional Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry flavors. But still they are among the favorites of the people. Varieties of natural flavors are also among the favorites of the people.


The ice cream industry in India is growing at a fast rate. Many top Indian ice cream brand companies are competing with eachother to acquire the largest market share. Some of the top ice cream brands are namely, Amul, Mother Dairy, Kwality Walls, Vadilal, Lazza, Havmor, Hangyo, Natural and Cream Bell.


With the continuous growth of Indian ice cream industry every want to share this pie. However, the manufacturing cost of ice cream is higher than frozen desserts resulting a profit gap. Currently cold war is going on between ice cream and frozen desserts manufacturers as ice cream industry thinks that FD has taken over the market.  Everyone is aware about the recent controversy between Amul and HUL. The bigthing is that one should aware about the difference between both.


Difference between Ice Cream and FD
With the scorching Indian summer setting in, the only things kids want to have is Ice Cream!

So, you head to the nearest shop to buy your kids Ice cream and realize certain packs have ‘Frozen Desserts’ mentioned on the pack. Now with all the confusing information on Social media, you may want to know what is the difference between Ice Cream and Frozen Dessert right.

Both ice cream and frozen dessert contain milk/milk solids. To make an ice cream/frozen dessert, in addition to milk protein, fat is also needed. The difference between frozen dessert and ice cream is that frozen dessert use vegetable fat (referred to as edible vegetable oil in the labelling) in place of milk fat rest of the 90 percent contents is same or common.

In India, use of dairy fat as the only source of fat is a requirement to call the product Ice Cream. In these cases, non-dairy fat or vegetable oil containing products is termed Frozen Dessert.

Strictly speaking, a product to be called an ice cream should have contents to the specified standards. If not complying with the standards, it is illegal to sell such ice cream. Hence firms which swerve from these norms discreetly call their product “frozen dessert.” In order to understand the plight of the ice cream industry we spoke the leading companies of the ice cream industry.

With the largest share in Indian ice cream industry Amul is now offering more than two hundred flavours for ice cream lovers. As Amul use only dairy fat in manufacturing claims that most of the industry big players are serving frozen desserts in ice cream price. Last year, controversy between Amul and HUL(Mother Dairy) was on its peak and HUL filed a plea again Amul in Mumbai High Court.Here in this article supported by a couple of interviews of the leading ice cream brands we are trying to understand the real trepidations of the ice cream industry, why there is controversy?

When we asked R.S. Sodhi, Managing Director of GCMMF (AMUL)about the difference between FD and ice creams he said that ice cream can be made only by using dairy fat while frozen desserts manufacturers use vegetable oil which is smoother than dairy fat and cheaper also. Consumers are buying frozen dessert thinking it’s ice cream. “Frozendesserts are masquerading as ice creams. By using low cost ingredients, they are misleading the consumers who are looking for real product. We are trying to make consumers aware of the difference,” he said, referring to Amul’s anti-frozen dessert campaign. “Consumers are fooled into buying frozen desserts. It is a lookalike category. Most brands mention frozen desserts in small letters and push the category instead of advertising it as dessert,” says Sodhi,. He says dairy fat costs 300/kg, while vegetable fat is 50-60 a kilo. “Frozen desserts play with huge margins and cheat consumers.”

Clearing the main difference between tasty bowls CEO of Iceberg Ice Cream – Dr. SuhasShetty told that Any sweetened dish that is consumed in frozen form can be classified as frozen dessert, whereas ice-cream specifically refers to dessert made from milk and milk products.

Dr. Shetty added that Ice-cream is prepared by freezing pasteurized mix obtained from milk, dairy fat and/or milk products. Eggs, fruits, fruit derivate, sweetening agents, or other flavours are added to ice cream for enhancing the flavour. Frozen dessert, on the hand, is prepared by freezing mix comprising vegetable oils and fat with a melting point not exceeding 37 degrees C, milk or vegetable protein, and sweetening agents, he told.

Iceberg CEO informed that the process of making ice-creams is a lot more complex than that of making frozen desserts. All the ingredients that go into making an ice-cream are churned together before being set to freeze and also churned constantly while being frozen.

However, the top companies are claiming that the other companies are passing, what they call are, frozen desserts in the name of ice creams. In a way, they are cheating the consumers by offering frozen dessert which is made with vegetable fat, which is almost 80% cheaper than the Milk fat, which the formers use.

“Ice Cream is manufactured by Milk, Cream and Butter (or say Milk Fats) and Frozen Desserts (FD) are manufactured by Vegetable Oils/ Saturated fats like Refined Palm Karnel Oil (RPKO) etc. It’s a fact that FD has taken some space in the last two decades because of the competitive price and majorly in institutions and B and C outlets”, stated Pradeep Pai MD Hangyo ice cream.


Havmor Nitesh Mathur too thinks that because of vegetable oil production cost of FD is too low than ice cream. He urged that Margins in FD are better than Ice Cream which is tempting manufacturers to make Frozen Desserts also.


Home-grown ice cream brand Havmor has set its sights on becoming one of the top three in the country by 2020. And its acquisition by South Korean major Lotte Confectionery for Rs 10.20 billion late last year has fueled Havmor’s plans to consolidate its position in markets down south—including Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka-where it is relatively new.

Growth of FD
Companies offering frozen desserts which are served in indistinguishable cups, cones and sticks as ice cream-have found a sturdy grip in the country in less than two decades. They look and taste like ice cream and have silently grabbed a 75% share in India’s organized ice cream market. The main players are asking for the issue to be brought in the notice of the appropriate authority and the consumers to let them understand difference between the ice creams and the frozen desserts.

Within 3-4 years it is seen that market of FD is increasing rapidly. However still many industry giants think that ice cream segment is ruling over frozen desserts. Emerging players of industry claims that due to inadequate knowledge customers are buying FD in name of ice cream which is main growth reason for this segment.

Focusing on regular growth of FD segment Mathur emphasized that from last few years the old time Ice cream manufacturers started manufacturing Frozen Desserts also and new entrants also heavily focus on Frozen Desserts.

Bhuvana Nageshvaran Director – F & F too thinks thatmarket for frozen dessert has been increasing globally due to rise in disposable income and improved lifestyle. She believes that consumer’s preferences towards various varieties of frozen dessert, additionally, rise in fluctuating weather tends consumers to prefer frozen dessert.

However,Pai still believes that even today, given a choice Indian Customer still prefers Ice Creams in taste over Frozen Desserts (FD). Indian customers have a strong taste bud. Hangyo MD believes that FD share is only 20-22% of total ice cream industry.

Commenting on growth statistics he said that this is mainly because of no knowledge about FD to the consumers. That’s why many brands have made different ads and are giving advertisements in social media to bring about this awareness.  Pai feel that its manufacturers responsibility to clearly communicate to the consumers so that the consumer should know whether he is buying Ice Cream or FD so that customers to know what they are eating is healthier food. ​


He further said whereas, in the State of Kerala where the consumers are literate and very cautious, before buying they clearly ask the retailer whether it is Ice Cream or FD.


Health Hazards
The ice-cream/frozen desserts category has witnessed substantial evolution in the recent past. Up to a decade ago, the category was largely limited to ice-creams with traditional flavors, e.g. vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, along with some other variants like kesarpista, mango, elaichi, traditional kulfi, etc.

According to experts the vegetable oil provide more better taste with flavour as the grasping power is more in oil compared to dairy fat. FDs are having RPKO which is refined are odorless and blind in nature of which grasping power is more. Vegetable fat is not terribly wrong for human health, but it can prove to be more unsafe than the milk fat as it is generally hydrogenated or Tran’s fat which can increase the cholesterol levels in the human body. Yet, there being no striking harm to the health by consuming the frozen desserts which is made of vegetable fat, people have accepted the frozen desserts also with great joy.


Commenting on the issue Amul MD said that the western world has now realised that dairy fat is better for health and butter and fat rich dairy products sales are climbing as compared to analogue products which are on the declining trend. “Milk fat is characteristically different from vegetable fats due to the presence of butyric (C4:0) and caproic (C6:0) acids in it, which are responsible for the rich buttery taste in milk and milk products. On the contrary, products which are void of milk fat often use vegetable oils and flavours to imitate the richness produced by the above-mentioned low chain fatty acids”, stressed Sodhi.

Nutritionists say there is nothing terribly wrong about vegetable fat. After all, edible oil is regularly used in Indian cooking and snacks. But it could be more harmful than milk fat. Vegetable fat contained in frozen desserts is generally unsaturated and hence, healthier, the catch is that the plant fat used will be generally hydrogenated or trans-fat.

“Trans-fats can raise cholesterol levels as much or more than saturated fat and increases the risk of developing heart disease and stroke. It’s also associated with a higher risk of developing diabetes,” said Pai. “In the West, it is mandatory to mention trans-fats used in packaged foods,” he adds. While most manufacturers in India use palm oil, which is the cheapest, to make frozen desserts, some may use soybean oil or coconut oil.

While Mathur urged that vegetable, oil used in frozen desserts are subjected to high levels of heat as well as infused with metal catalysts so as to transform the oils into a solid state at room temperature to allow for easier handling and longer storage. Continued consumption may cause serious health problems like increased cholesterol levels in the blood, heart disease, increased weigh, said he.

Dr. Shetty too thinks that real ice cream makers use 100 per cent natural flavours with fresh picked fruits which are not in the case of frozen desserts, as everything used in the process of making it, is artificial. The crude ingredient is itself being vegetable fat which is a hazard on human health.

“Frozen desserts are less likely to melt fast at room temperature and stay stagnant for a long time, the same thing happens when consumed by us, difficult to dissolve in fast. Frozen desserts have traces of transfat and unsaturated fats which should be avoided in our diet. They are simply bad fats and aid in weight gain and heart problems. So, nutritionally it falters”, said he.

Flavour grasping power
Frozen dessert means the product obtained by freezing a pasteurized mix prepared with milk fat and/or edible vegetable oils and fat having a melting point of not more than 37.0 degree C in combination and milk protein alone or in combination/or vegetable protein products singly or in combination with the addition of nutritive sweetening agents.

It is said that the grasping power of flavour is more in frozen desserts than in ice cream as it contains vegetable oil which mix the flavour because of its unique grasping technique while ice cream contains dairy fat and this gives a better blend than any other flavour.This flavour blend is somehow giving race to frozen desserts segment.

Typically, most ice cream makers use vegetable oil as a smoothening agent for their products, along with other milk solids. That helps reduce production costs because vegetable oil is cheaper than dairy fat. But the FSSAI’s 2011 decision suggested that products made with pure milk fat were richer and healthier than their oil-based counterparts. So, health-conscious consumers were more likely to look for what they thought was the real deal, i.e. milk-fat-based ice creams.

According to Bhuvana Nageshvaran there are generally more flavours in frozen dessert because the manufacturers add Milk flavour and Vanilla flavour if they want to product a Vanilla Frozen dessert. On the other hand, to produce Vanilla Ice cream, you will only add Vanilla flavours.

Pradeep Pai too accept this fact that Consumers are demanding for a new flavours and because the FDs are having RPKO which is refined are odorless and blind in nature of which grasping power is more. However, Ice Creams which are manufactured by milk fats which have a natural cream/butter odor, still gives a better blend with any flavours. In any field today there is competition and innovation is we have to work hard for R&D and Innovation said Pai.


Disagree with this view Nitesh Mathur said that It’s not true, we at Havmor manufacturers 100% Ice Creams and are known for new flavour developments in the Industry. Infact Mathur said that innovations on flavour are more important for any company to gain market for its product.


Moreover, the entry of the International brands is influencing the consumer behavior as well as preferences. With Baskin-Robbins, HaagenDazs, Swensen’s, The Cream & Fudge Factory, etc. in the market, consumers have become more demanding and constantly seek innovations in terms of products, flavours, etc. People really like to relish their taste buds with the new arrivals in the market. And hence most of the ice cream parlors are seen occupied throughout all the seasons, even sometimes at the late hours too.

Companies passing FD in name of Ice creams
Served in identical cups, cones and sticks as ice cream-have found a strong foothold in the country in less than two decades since Kwality Walls introduced them. But food authority officials and original ice-cream makers such as Amul Naturals, Hangyo and Havmor feel these companies are misleading consumers by masquerading frozen dessert as ice cream.

When we go through frozen desserts packs we find that the manufacturers of this segment are complying with FSSAI rule and clearly mentioning FD on that but still ice cream manufacturers think that FD manufacturers through there advertisement try to showoff like ice cream and never make any thing clear.

On a question of providing FD in the name of ice cream Industry giant Sodhi said that frozen dessert is masquerading itself as ice cream. “They must mention frozen dessert upfront in their advertisements and the products in lieu of which it amounts to cheating the consumer”. He added that it is our responsibility to educate customers about ‘analogues’ products so that consumers know what they are purchasing.

Nitesh too thinks that Frozen Desserts manufacturers should clearly say about Frozen desserts in their different ways of communication, like Ice Cream manufacturers & then let consumer decide. He further said that Ice cream is a dairy product, but frozen desserts, which do not contain milk cream, are marketed by various food-processing companies as ice cream. “The consumers, misguided by the flavours and presentation, which is similar to ice-cream, tend to believe that the product is ice cream. As vegetable oil used in frozen desserts is one third the price of milk fat, frozen desserts manufacturers play with huge margins and cheat consumers” said Nitesh.


However Pradeep of emerging South Indian brand Hangyo don’t think that any FD Manufacturers are mentioning it as Ice Cream. He stressed that most of Indian Consumers are not aware of the clear difference between Ice Cream and Frozen Dessert.


Supporting Pai’s stand shetty too thinks that the clear-cut difference of taste can be found among both. Which in future with the knowledge of the consumer differentiating between frozen desserts and ice cream the whole bunch of market share is going to occupied by real players like us.

He further added that people are getting aware with the difference between two. Trend is changing and consumers are opting healthier products and ice cream is filling this segment.

Big Controversy
Earlier in 2017, news of the desi favourite Amul and the global conglomerate Hindustan Unilever fighting in court over the definition of an ice cream and a frozen dessert were in the air. In one of their ads, Amul tried to draw attention by dissing Kwality Wall’s frozen desserts as not real ice cream, which led to the current lawsuit filed by the latter’s parent company, Hindustan Unilever.

Few months back,HUL dragged Amul to court over their latest advertisement,where a little girl goes to the dentist and dentist ask girl’s dad to buy her an ice-cream than ad insisted on giving her real ice-cream which contains real milk not Vanaspati oil and further insisted on giving Amul ice-cream which is made up of real milk. Ad ask customer to check before buying ice-cream whether it is ice-cream or frozen dessert because frozen dessert contains Vanaspati oil(bad for health) but ice-cream do not.HUL claimed that, advertisement has shown negative impact on their product stating that their product is harmful for health.

And if reports are to be believed, it seems that this is a battle that is resumed every summer, because India has a huge ice-cream market that everyone wants to capture. No sooner, Nestle’s Movenpick announced its intention to set up shops in India, and the Arizona-based Cold Stone Creamery is all ready to penetrate the Indian market.

After having words with industry giants we are still confused about the confliction between these two. In month of May-July when our shirts are completely wet with rolling sweat we never distinguish between ice cream and frozen desserts. Consumers always want taste in minimum price which he is getting both in ice cream and frozen desserts. In their views ice cream manufacturers claimed that frozen desserts manufacturers use edible oil (vegetable oil) which contain transfat but consumers don’t think that it is big issue as vegetable oil is life line of every Indian kitchen. On the other hand ice cream candy is biggest selling product in Indian ice cream industry neither contains vegetable oil nor dairy fat and most of the ice cream frozen dessert manufacturers launch 4-5 new flavours of this segment every year.

With this article we somehow find out why frozen desserts are bitter taste for ice cream manufacturers. However, interviewing big players of the industry we found that reason behind bitter taste of frozen desserts for ice cream manufacturers is a profit margin as well as growing market share of FDs. With high grasping power of vegetable oil allow FD makers to try new flavours with a perfect taste resulting high share is another big reason of this cat fight.

It isn’t surprising that everyone wants a fair share of this pie. The pushing of frozen desserts as ice creams is in accordance with this trend. All is to be done with ice cream manufacturers to come with more innovative ideas and to work on R&D as trend is changing and now even in rural areas neither there is any season for ice cream nor people consumers check their pocket for better taste.



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