Taking cue from a growing demand for dairy free ice creams in India, Baskin Robbins finally announced the launch of vegan versions of its two popular flavours recently. It was, indeed, a delightful news for vegans across India. Outside India too, ice cream brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, Häagen-Dazs, Daily Harvest, and others offer a variety of vegan flavours. These brands have already grabbed a big chunk of the vegan ice cream market in several countries, and India being such a huge and diverse market, there are opportunities galore!
Vegan ice creams and dairy free ice creams are not something new to India and have been present for a long time. There are a lot of brands with local roots that are catering to vegan and lactose intolerant customers with a variety of flavour options. These 100% vegan brands use local and seasonal ingredients and fresh non-dairy milk. We spoke to these brands to find out what ingredients they use in their ice creams, and what new they have to offer. Check them out!
White Cub is one of India’s oldest names in vegan and dairy free ice creams. Sonal, CEO of White Cub, laid the foundations of the company in 2012, and in 2013, set up the first parlour in Gurgaon. Today, the brand is catering to customers across all major cities in India, including Delhi, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata, Bombay, Bengaluru and Chennai.
Novelty is at the heart of White Cub, and it can clearly be seen in the ice cream flavours the company keeps launching. Sonal told us, “For the winter season, we are offering organic haldi (turmeric) based ice creams called Turmeric Glow for our customers in Delhi and Gurgaon. Besides this, we are almost on the verge of launching masala ice cream, which has khada masala (spices) grounded into the ice cream mix in certain specific proportions. We might also launch a til (sesame) ice cream for winters.” Turmeric Glow ice cream is already available at White Cub parlours as well as on Zomato and Swiggy.
Apart from these seasonal ones, the company offers interesting flavours such as Banarasi Paan, Coconut Frenzy, Indian Wedding, Che Guevara, Buddha’s Fig, amongst others.
Started by Mumbai-based entrepreneur Samir Pasad, Nomou offers artisanal plant based vegan ice creams that are free from any preservatives, artificial colours, stabilizers, or flavours. Samir was initially selling ice creams only to HORECA (hotels, restaurants and cafes) segment under the brand name of Vegan Bites, but in December 2019, he launched ice creams for retail too with the new brand name ‘Nomou’.
For the winter season, Nomou is going to offer fresh strawberry ice cream. Samir said, “In our seasonal ice creams, we use fresh fruits; not purees or frozen fruits. Mango is the summer favourite amongst customers. We already have about 15 flavours and keep innovating from time to time. Right now, we are looking at some new ones such as chocolate and hazelnut, Oreo cookies and butterscotch. All our ice creams are gluten free and refined sugar free.”
Vegan Heart is a Mumbai-based brand that specialises in ice creams made from natural ingredients, and uses only dates to sweeten the ice creams. Throughout the year, they sell six flavours and keep introducing new flavours as per the season. Vegan Heart is present at around eight stores in Mumbai as well as at Nature’s Soul in New Delhi.
Kapil Wadhwa, co-founder of Vegan Heart Ice Creams, told us, “Our ice cream sales have doubled up post lockdown. A lot of non vegans buy our ice creams too, which is a great thing! We cater to our customers through Zomato and Vegan Dukan. Soon, our ice creams are going to be available via Swiggy, Vvegano and Vegan Mall as well.”
Talking about flavours, Kapil said, “We do strawberry every winter season and around Holi, we have our special thandai flavour. We use only natural fruits in our ice creams, and sweeten them with dates. We do not use any kind of sugar. Right now, the seasonal flavours that are getting over are custard apple, chikoo and chilli guava. We use coconut milk as our base as it is one of the healthiest milk alternative.”
Dittoo Ice Creams
Bengaluru-based brand Dittoo was founded by Nithyashree Y.N. in November 2019. Within a short span, the company has been able to woo customers with their offbeat flavours and fresh ingredients. Nithyashree told us, “We are soon going to start with strawberry soon. We have other regular flavours which include our chocolate series, vanilla series, amongst several others. Dittoo offers two very special flavours – Hibiscus & Rose and Coconut Chia. Due to our unique flavours, a lot of non vegans too buy our ice creams and they love it!”
Dittoo uses non dairy milks that are produced in-house. Based on the flavours, they use a combination of different milks with coconut milk as the common base. “At present, we are catering only to Bengaluru since we don’t use any stabilizers and emulsifiers that enable long distance transport. We are looking for a reliable technology that can support us and then we can definitely expand.”
The company follows a pre order model. “We take pre orders only as we understand that each person has a different criterion and choice. We give our customers the option to not only choose the flavour, but also the sweetener. We offer ice creams in raw sugar, stevia and dates versions. Though we mostly do pre orders, people can also buy our ice creams from at Go Native and Enerjuvate café in Koramangala.”
Nithyashree is of the opinion that cost of ice creams depends on what is going inside them. “All the products that we have been seeing in the market have set a benchmark of ‘cheap and best’. Nobody really cares about what goes into making that product. The cost of the ingredients used by such companies is not high. They use hydrogenated oil and milk powder that makes selling at lower prices possible. But when real ingredients go into making an ice cream, the cost is bound to go up. The comparison is not right.”