Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Yogurt or Curd which is an essential component of staple diet in India has been hibernating in the homes for centuries without getting into the main stream market due to many reasons including lack of preservation technology and poor cold chain infrastructure for distribution and retailing. This situation seems to be changing with many domestic and foreign players getting into this sector to make available standard curd based products like frozen yogurt with a variety of flavor and taste. Traditionally curd is made at home and consumed either with the main meals or as a beverage like Lassi and many urban regions have milk shops preparing these products to be made and consumed fresh on the spot. Attempts by some dairy processors to make and market "set curds" using standardized cultures have been going on for some time but without creating any flutter in the market place. During the last few years the curd market is witnessing some turbulence with many cooperative dairy units able to raise volume for their simple curd packed in poly pouches for sale through the fluid milk distribution net work. It is only now that frozen yogurt products which are internationally known are entering in India for offering these products using state of the art technology. If the reports are to be believed the yogurt market is clocking growth in the range of 15-18% annually and business predictions indicate literally flooding of the market place by different branded products in the coming years. Here is a commentary on this exciting development in India. 

The Indian consumer with disposable income is turning to frozen yogurt as a healthy alternative to high-calorie desserts. And leading international players are fast moving in to tap into the growing market, including Red Mango, Canada-based Kiwi Kiss, South Korea's Yogurberry, France's Danone and Switzerland's NestlĂ©. The Los Angeles-based chain Pinkberry is reported to be getting ready to enter India by the end of this year. Meanwhile, leading Indian brands such as Mother Dairy and Amul have also been expanding their yogurt portfolio. The New Delhi–based research and consultancy firm Technopak Advisors estimates the global frozen yogurt market at around $75 to $77 billion and growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15% to 18%. Of this, the U.S. accounts for $11 billion and is growing at a CAGR of 10% to 12%. In India, yogurt is classified under the health and wellness food segment. Technopak estimates that in 2011, this segment garnered around $2 billion in revenues. Over the next three years, it is expected to grow to $5 billion. Pratichee Kapoor, associate vice president for food services and agriculture at Technopak, says the packaged yogurt market (plain and flavored) currently constitutes around 7% to 8% of the total health and wellness segment in India and was worth around $150 million in 2011. It is growing at a CAGR of 18% to 20% and is poised to double in size by 2015. According to Technopak the ice cream and frozen dessert market in India — which includes frozen yogurt — was estimated to be at $450 million in 2009-2010 and is expected to cross $900 million by 2014-2015. A separate figure for the share of the frozen yogurt market was not available.

What ever the market predictions, it is a fact that yogurt is liked by Indians and fortunately curd based products targeted at kids in stead of high fat and high sugar ice cream products, are healthier choices. Originally started as an alternative to ice creams by the industry which wanted to circumvent the rigid standards for ice cream, the concept seems to have become popular with billions of dollars of frozen yogurts being consumed world over. Though frozen yogurt is being promoted as a healthy choice it is some what unclear whether all the health claims made on the label are sustainable under scientific scrutiny. There are flavored Lassi products already being served from thousands of shops, especially in the North. However these are made from fresh curds with no thermal processing involved but packed frozen yogurt does undergo some processing which may affect the effective concentration of probiotic bacteria in such products. One advantage for Lassi over frozen yogurt is that it is available in salty taste also unlike the the latter which are intensely sweetened. The food authorities will have to come out with specific standards, especially with regard to the bacterial levels in such products and probably frozen yogurt will have to come under the category of proprietary products until such time proper standards are promulgated in the country. Commercially processed yogurt preparations now made in India will definitely provide variety to the consumer beyond what is available earlier. From the health point of view there is no doubt that frozen yogurt is preferable to ice cream any day.

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