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SNACKS & CONFECTIONERY

Amul-Kwality Walls battle dividing ice cream & frozen dessert players
Thursday, 11 May, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi, Shraddha Joshi & Harc
The ice cream vs frozen dessert battle fiercely fought by giants Amul and Kwality Walls has ended up dividing the industry making it look like a war between ice cream manufacturers and frozen dessert players. Interestingly, companies that make products under both the categories seem to be taking a cautious stand.

While ice cream manufacturers are keen to show that their products since made from milk fat are authentic, frozen dessert industry players insist that vegetable fat is leaner than milk fat, hence, healthier. Experts, however, feel that both the varieties are edible and have a place of their own.

Though the issue has been boiling for sometime,it graduated into a major row with Hindustan Unilever moving Bombay High Court over an advertisement by Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation which owns Amul. The advertisement claims that ice cream made from milk fat is better than ice cream made from vegetable fat, which technically is called frozen desert as per FSSAI norms.

In its plea, HUL stated that the advertisement by Amul was misleading. It demanded immediate withdrawal of the advertisement while Amul claimed that the advertisement was launched to educate the consumers.

Both HUL and Amul decline to comment over the issue, since the matter is sub judice.

Meanwhile, Sudhir Shah,director, Scoops Ice Cream, a chain down south, throws light on the factors that make the ad misleading. He said, “Ads were misleading because of three reasons, one that vanaspati term is used for vanaspati ghee which is not used in frozen desserts. Second, in frozen desserts the misleading ad says there is no milk, whereas frozen desserts are also made up of milk but for smoothness they use vegetable oil fat instead of milk fat. Third, frozen desserts are made of vegetable oil' fat hence they are lighter or we can say healthier.”

However, Chaitanya Rele, vice-president, marketing, Havmor Ice Cream Ltd, counters him with, "I don’t think Amul advertisement is misleading in any way. The whole idea of the advertisement is to inform its consumers’, the difference between the frozen dessert and dairy ice creams. It is important to create consumer awareness about the products. Also, FSSAI themselves has classified the frozen dessert and milk ice cream in such a way. So advertisement was not at all misleading. It just says that Amul doesn't use vanaspati. There is no mention of name, any other brand or its product in advertisement.”

He added, “Traditionally, even at homes, mothers emphasising ghee over oil while consuming with roti.”

But the ad did put a question mark on frozen dessert manufacturers and the ingredients they use.

Rele explains,“For manufacturers, vegetable oil is available to consumer at cheaper cost as compared to milk. This price difference can be seen in Kwality Walls products range as well. In its premium products, Magnum made of dairy fat is costlier than its other regular range products. Why premium products are not made of vegetable oil? In fact oil has saturated fats whereas, in milk there is presence of naturally occurring fats.”
 
But Shah of Scoops insists, “As I said above, both have their own USPs. Frozen desserts use vegetable oil's fat that's why they are considered lighter and healthier for fitness thinkers. Globally consumption of frozen desserts is much higher than ice cream which is made up of milk and milk fat. This is due to lightness of frozen desserts.”

Though differing in their opinion, most industry players agreed that the consumers need to be educated about the products, their content and the goodness.

Shah states, “In my view, next step should be to educate the consumer about both products on realistic basis. Both are good, both are healthy but for different age groups and lifestyle people. Per capita consumption of ice cream category is way too low compared to USA or China in India. On the other hand, consumption of milk products and edible oils is also way too low. So I would suggest first bring the country to some level of consumption and then let the consumer decide good or bad for them but not by ‘mispublicity.’”

Rele concludes, “Currently there is no significant effect of this on industry, as information is still reading the consumers. I would say consumer awareness need to grow as much as possible. As far as the advertisement is concerned, it is duty of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) to monitor and regulate advertisement based on product information and facts. They need to scrutinise the advertisement by frozen dessert manufacturers.”

Meanwhile, experts explain the key differences between the two fats.

Ashwin Bhadri, chief executive officer, Equinox Labs, states, a lot has been said about what kind of fat is better - animal origin fats like milk fats or vegetable fats. For over half a century, many research studies have told us to replace animal fats with vegetable fats which are high in Omega-6 and polyunsaturated variety.

“However, a study conducted on a group of 458 men claimed otherwise and doubted the connection of animal-origin fats to obesity and coronary disorders. Milk has 3.5% fat at the time the cow is milked, while low-fat milk has 2% fat, with a lower level of cholesterol and saturated fats. On a whole, milk has more than 350 different types of fats, out of which approximately 61% of them are saturated and 4% unsaturated ones.”

According to him, if one compares both on a 100g basis, milk fat has around 42 calories while vegetable fats have 884 calories. The numbers might differ with types of milk and research studies. However, lactose- and gluten-intolerant people have to be careful in terms of the consumption.

Further, the biggest difference in their usage for preparing desserts is that those prepared from milk are called ice creams which contain around 10-16% of milk fats, while those prepared from vegetable oils are called frozen desserts. These vegetable oils are generally coconut oil and palm oil which are advised by the doctors to avoid in the diet.

Bhadri states, “Many leading companies use dairy fats to prepare ‘ice creams' while few others use vegetable oils to prepare ‘frozen desserts.' Now the price of these two ingredients differs with a margin of at least Rs 200/kg (price of milk fat being on the higher end). Though the users of dairy fats have accused the latter half of cheating consumers and making profits, the ones using vegetable fats have claimed that people anyways use the same for cooking.

This speculation continues as Indians and many people over the world use vegetable oils for cooking. A different research will bring out different results and may be misleading for some. In such cases, it is advisable to ask your dietitian regarding this. Also, the best practice that any consumer should follow is to know what is right for yourself and read the label before buying. This will facilitate 'Informed Purchase' to the people.
 
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