The ice cream business that was struggling to recover from the pandemic fallout over the past year has now witnessed a sales spree, bringing back confidence in entrepreneurs.
The industry sold ice cream worth Tk200 crore, much more than expectation, in just 30 days before and after Eid-ul-Fitr amid the sweltering summer, industry insiders said.
With the sales boom, industry insiders now hope their annual turnover will surpass at least Tk1,700 crore this year, up by 21% from Tk1,400 crore in the previous year.
In 2020, turnover drastically fell to Tk730 crore, nearly half of the pre-pandemic sales – Tk1,240 crore in 2019.
"On the occasion of this Eid, we struggled to supply products by keeping pace with increased demand. Such a situation we have seen after many days," said Mahmudul Haque Patwary, national sales manager of the Chittagong-headquartered Kwality Ice Cream.
"All the companies saw their sales boom unexpectedly during the period. I think this is the rebound of the ice cream industry," he told The Business Standard.
"With the recovery of the pandemic losses, we are now doing well. In the Eid season, we saw a 35% year-on-year growth," said Sumit Chakrabarty, senior brand manager of Abdul Monem Limited that markets Igloo ice cream.
Although Eid sales were not average for the whole year, he was hopeful that they would see at least a 20% growth in the current year. "If the growth continues, the country's ice cream market will reach Tk2,600 crore by 2025."
According to a recent annual report of an ice cream company, Igloo dominates the ice cream market with around 43% shares, followed by Polar, Kwality, Bloop, Lavello, and Bellissimo and Za 'n Zee, while non-brands supply only 3% of ice cream.
"Ice cream is a delicious food, the sale of which has a direct relation with purchasing capacity and weather conditions," said Sajjadur Rahman, chief marketing officer of Golden Harvest Agro Industries which sells ice cream under the brand name Bloop.
"As the weather is now getting hotter, sales of the item have been on the rise."
Citing the report, he told The Business Standard that Bangladesh now has some Tk3,000 crore investment in the sector, employing a workforce of 10,000 people.
"There is yet huge untapped potential and scope of investment."
According to another report, this one by Lanka Bangla Group back in 2017, the contribution of the ice cream industry to GDP was 0.064%, which was double than that in neighbouring India – 0.031%. In Vietnam, it was 0.094% and globally it was 0.053%.
Meanwhile, entrepreneurs have said they use 12% milk fat in ice cream which is being imported from Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Denmark, Malaysia and Singapore.
"Higher customs tariff, from 37% to 127%, on the raw materials, including milk fat, is a barrier to the growth of the industry," said Mahmudul Haque Patwary. Besides, refrigerators are very essential for the industry, which also have higher duties.
"If the government provides us with tax support, we can grow fast," he added.