Amul’s Epic ice-cream to debut in Mumbai

After an eventful entry into Delhi last month, Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), the owners of Amul, one of the country’s best-loved food brands, will launch its premium stick ice-cream Epic in the city this week.

The Mumbai leg will be Epic’s second city-specific launch after it created a stir in Delhi last month by launching the product a day ahead of Magnum, rival Hindustan Unilever’s stick ice-cream, which was slated for rollout on February 18 in the capital.

GCMMF’s MD R S Sodhi confirmed the Mumbai launch saying the product will be taken to cities such as Bangalore, Kolkata and Chennai post that.

Meanwhile, rival Mother Dairy, which quitely rolled out its high-end stick ice-cream called Belgiyum in Delhi around the same time that Epic and Magnum were launched in the capital, will take it to five more metros, says Subhashis Basu, head of dairy products.

“The metros include Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad and the roll-out will happen in the next one month,” Basu says. Mini-metros such as Pune and Ahmedabad are also on Mother Dairy’s radar, but a launch there is expected to happen a little later, he says.

Both Epic and Belgiyum, compete head-on with Magnum, and are made of Belgian chocolate like the latter. However,  Epic has been priced at less than half of Magnum at Rs 35-40 a stick, while Belgiyum is available for Rs 80 a stick. Magnum comes for 90 a stick.

Sodhi says that GCMMF will also continue with its Creme Rich brand of Belgian ice-creams in cups and tubs, which was launched last summer.

“While Creme Rich did help us make inroads into the premium ice-cream market, we needed something strong to compete with the likes of Magnum, which is why Epic. Our price points are competitive because we are not importing Epic (HUL imports Magnum into India). This allows us to keep our costs low,” he says.

The move to fortify its premium ice-cream portfolio comes as Amul is looking to trade up as consumer preferences change. While Amul has 40-41 per cent share of the Rs 2,000-crore organised ice-cream market, it has achieved this largely on the back of mass-market products typically priced at a discount to rivals.

Amul has always defended this pricing strategy saying its co-operative model allows it to source raw materials, especially milk, economically, permitting it to pass on these savings to consumers. The strategy has been no different in other dairy categories such as  fresh and flavoured yoghurts, milk-based beverages where it operates.

The premium ice-cream market, in particular, has been expanding on the back of growing disposable incomes and consumers’ desire to try out better products, Basu of Mother Dairy says. Pegged at Rs 250-300 crore within the overall ice-cream market, the premium segment has in the past few years seen the entry of international brands such as Häagen Dazs, CocoBerry and London Dairy. 

While Epic will be available in most stores in Mumbai, Belgiyum will be retailed at select outlets to ensure its premium profile and imagery stays, Basu says. GCMMF is expected to begin marketing activities around Epic in the next few weeks to increase hype as summer sets in. Magnum and Belgiyum could also get its share of voice in the summer, experts tracking the market say.