Indians are known for liking sweets around the world. There are special sweet dishes in every region of this country. In fact, many ice cream brands (both international and domestic) have started offering to satisfy the desire of people and satisfy them with sweets.
According to research platform Markets Research, the Indian ice cream market is projected to reach $ 3.4 billion in revenue in 2021. While people’s love for ice cream will never go away, many health-conscious brands are growing in an area that dominates at a national and international level. One such brand is Noto Ice Cream.
While working in his uncle’s diamond business in New York in 2009, founder Varun Sheth realized that he really enjoyed cooking. Eventually, he earned a degree in Culinary Arts from Natural Gourmet Institute, New York and worked at a Mario Battlei restaurant before returning to India. He also briefly worked at the Taj Hotel in Mumbai, after which he started a catering business which closed after some time.
Being a pizza-lover, Varun wanted to pursue his love for Italian food and went to Italy to make pizza in 2015. On his return, he started a pizza shop called Pizza Kitchen in Mumbai.
Shortly thereafter, in 2018, Varun faced some odd health conditions, which forced him to embark on his weight loss journey. However, he felt that he was not able to compromise on sweets. Meanwhile, it was becoming very difficult for him to grow the pizza business.
Varun saw this as a business opportunity and decided to venture into the sweets category, though he decided that they would make him healthy.
This led to Noto, a low-calorie ice cream brand, born in May 2019. Noto’s USP lies in its calorie content. All the options offered by the brand are less than 100 calories compared to normal ice cream, including 140 and 200 calories.
The concept of low-calorie ice cream is derived from the Western world and is slowly gaining a place in India. Los Angeles-based Halo Top is an ice cream brand with about 25 flavours, each with a minimum of 70 calories. Other US-based brands such as Wink Frozen Desserts, Skinny Cow and Yasso also fall into the low-calorie ice cream category.
In fact, Noto Ice Cream in India competes with Mumbai-based Get-A-Way, a healthy ice cream brand that uses protein in its products.
Noto Ice Cream was started by Varun and his wife Ashni, who hail from a fashion background. Ashwani handles the company’s marketing and public relations vertical, while Varun oversees operations.
Initially, it was challenging for the company to customize each product according to Indian customers.
“India is a sensitive country with taste. If the product does not taste good, people will not buy it. “
Varun worked with a consultant from the UK to tailor the products to Indian tastes. The company also outsourced its manufacturing services to units in and around Mumbai.
Ice cream was first developed into common flavors such as vanilla, strawberry, chocolate and mango. Eventually, Varun introduced flavors that also featured exotic touches such as pink guava, dark chocolate, orange and almonds. Notto ice cream currently boasts eight flavors.
The frozen dessert of Notto ice cream contains three grams of fat, 75 percent less sugar than regular ice cream and 75 to 95 calories. Apart from this it also uses prebiotic fiber, sugar-alcohol erythritol and stevia to achieve the required taste and health.
While many health-conscious ice cream brands do away with sugar or its substitute, Varun claims that Noto ice cream still retains a small amount of sugar to not compromise on taste.
Noto Ice Cream is currently available only in Mumbai and is priced at Rs 95 for a 125 ml tub, and Rs 335 for a 500 ml tub.
Last month the ice cream brand raised an undisclosed amount in a pre-seed round led by WEH Undertakings with Lead Engels. It has sold over 1.5 lakh units of ice cream and claims to serve around 50,000 customers annually.
One of the tough challenges the brand faced while developing its product was the shortcomings of the cold supply chain. Varun says, “It is easy to sell some goods on eCommerce, but this is not possible with ice cream.” While sitting in Mumbai, I am not sure that my product will reach a customer safely in Bangalore. ” Cold supply chain setups require heavy investment.
Currently, the brand has tie-ups with Swiggy and Zomato in Mumbai. It has partnered with 15 centres in the city for distribution.
Varun claims that the COVID-19 outbreak turned out to be a wake-up call for the company as it felt it needed to strengthen the (direct-to-consumer) D2C model to ensure that the epidemic The disruption caused does not affect the business.
“When the lockdown was announced, the hubs closed, and they were a big part of our revenue. However, we worked on our website and navigated through the situation and we are growing at a rate of 20-25 percent. ”
For Varun, going to D2C is a “more enlightening experience”. Apart from increasing customer engagement, Varun says that it has helped the brand recognize customer-ordering patterns and thereby better serve its customers.
The business plans to expand to various geographic regions within India, starting with Delhi and Bengaluru, and at the same time offering some new flavours.