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"India's demand for frozen food has increased dramatically"
Monday, 06 December, 2021, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Cocoberry is the leading premium frozen yogurt brand in India with a significant following on social media, and driven by passion to bring change in the food retail industry. The brand offers sugar-free yogurt with a wide range of toppings and sizes to complement the flavours. The brand is also launching 25 plus franchises spanning across the country covering prime locations such as Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, J&K, among others. Laksh Yadav, chief executive officer, Cocoberry, shares the brand’s success at winning the hearts of people with 100% locally-sourced products and unique tastes, and how the market is faring, in an email interview with Manjushree Naik. Excerpts

Cocoberry is one of the oldest yoghurt brands in the country. Tell us about your presence across the country.
The brand is the oldest frozen yoghurt brand in India and right now it is expanding. The media presence is in north India -Delhi NCR, and we are expanding in east India - Dimapur, Kolkata, and Kohima, as well as Central India, Mumbai and Pune.

You are known for offering sugar-free yogurts. Give us details on how healthy the offerings are.
We are the only brand serving sugar-free frozen yogurt. Speaking about its health benefits, our product has one calorie per gram. It contains one-third the calories of ice cream, and an 80g regular cup of plain yoghurt is just 80 calories, whereas ice cream is three times that.

Speaking about the nutritional content, it is a nutrient-dense diet because it contains a variety of nutrients in considerable proportions in relation to its calories and fat content. Yogurt, for instance, may supply the body with considerable amounts of calcium in a bioavailable form.

It also offers other health advantages in addition to basic nutrition, such as enhanced lactose tolerance and a probable involvement in body weight and fat loss. Yogurt includes active probiotic bacteria. These are beneficial bacteria that can aid in the development of a healthy gut, the reduction of blood pressure, and the enhancement of the immune system.

Give us details on the variety of toppings offered.
Cocoberry has over 35 different toppings to choose from. Berries such as blueberry, blackberry, cranberry, raspberry, and strawberry are among them. Fresh seasonal fruits are also available, as well as dry toppings, including chocolate alternatives. Dry fruits such as almonds, cashews, and prunes are also available. There are more, such as butterscotch toppings and nutritious toppings such as corn flakes and muesli. We make every effort to provide diversity in everything we provide our consumers, as well as to keep up with new and current business trends.

Tell us about your research and development in flavours.
If a brand has been in business for a long time, such as ours, it must learn its customers' preferences, their palates, and what they’d enjoy. In the research and development process, understanding the consumer is critical. Our customers prefer fruity and, in particular, berry-flavoured flavours, so we do extensive research and strive to bring better flavours and toppings to the table. We have a ‘flavour of the day' where we add chocolate toppings to keep it unique and distinctive.

The cold chain is a major issue in India. What is your experience as a frozen yoghurt maker?
Yes, the cold chain is a major issue in India. High energy costs, electricity shortages, escalating real estate costs, a lack of logistical assistance, and unequal capacity distribution are only some of them. Processing and cold chain logistics, in addition to a lack of safe and adequate food storage, remain a severe concern as well. As a result, we manufacture our products in-house to avoid these impediments. India is gradually developing and introducing many innovations and technologies, and I am sure the sector will get better.

You are planning forays into new markets under the franchise route. Give us details.
So, in general, we are not pro-franchise, and we do not want to develop primarily through franchising; instead, we want to expand through strategic partnerships. When I speak about tier 2 or tier 3 cities, I am referring to individuals who are ambitious and want Cocoberry to come to their town and engage, which we support. We have a really welcoming franchise for them, and we work directly with the brands on activation and launching their outlets.

The yoghurt market in India has seen many brands and chains shut down operations. What is your experience?
The pandemic impacted the frozen food market in India, and some large manufacturers suffered significant losses as a result of food joint closures. However, the entire market saw a mixed influence, with both positive and negative effects.

Before the pandemic, we were 30 outlets strong and had 10 more in line to open, but we had to press pause on everything. We are picking up from where we left off before the pandemic came along, spreading happiness one frozen yoghurt at a time. The motivation and encouragement our customers give us are indescribable.

How big is the frozen yoghurt market in India and at what rate is it growing?
In the current scenario, the frozen food industry is booming, and it will boom in the near future. In the last 5–10 years, there has been a revolution in the frozen food market. India is viewed as a large prospective market for frozen goods. Until recently, the usual product choices of Indian frozen food were confined to smileys, green peas, sausages, nuggets, and French fries.

However, in just 5–10 years, the frozen food business has undergone a transformation. There has been a considerable increase in the number of millennial and generation Z customers selecting frozen food for greater awareness, convenience, and acceptability in semi-urban and metropolitan areas. Ready-to-eat frozen foods are mostly used in dessert products, such as frozen yoghurt, which is fueling the industry's expansion.

As a low-fat, or even no-fat, alternative to ice creams and drinks, the organised yoghurt business is expected to increase from its present size of Rs 750 crore to a Rs 1,200 crore market.

India's demand for frozen food has increased dramatically. It is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18.17 percent between 2021 and 2025, reaching Rs 224.90 billion.

What kind of business are you looking at by 2025?
The continuous love from our customers, who have stayed loyal to the brand and its tasteful offerings even during the pandemic, has encouraged us to take the brand to the next level with an immediate expansion by the end of 2021. The frozen yoghurt brand further aims to have 200 outlets, mostly company-owned, within the next few years.

Are the regulations for frozen yoghurt adequate? What more needs to be done?
Frozen yoghurt is seen as the fastest-growing replacement for many desserts. This high-demand product is regulated by FSSAI. Like any other frozen dessert, yoghurt too requires a certain amount of fat and protein in its composition. The healthy component of it being low in saturated fats and trans fat free makes it a viable option across all age groups. Along with what goes into the process of making, brands also need to be conscious of the labelling standards and marketing of the product to make consumers aware of what they are eating. We are excited to provide customers with a healthy snacking option that is made with the utmost love and care.
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