Giving ice popsicles a healthy swing, this Hyderabad-based brand is satisfying sweet tooth cravings
Indians are known for having a sweet tooth. From ras malai to jalebi, cakes to doughnuts, we relish it all. Apart from milk-based ice-creams, one of the desserts that we have grown up devouring at fairs and outside our schools is ice popsicles.
While ice pops are one of the most popular desserts in the Indian subcontinent, with the ice cream market in the country reaching over Rs 14,000 crore in 2020, the industry is largely unorganised and hardly has any formal players, says Ravi Kabra, Founder of ice pops brand.
Skippi (also known as Kabra Global) is an offshoot of Prabhat Udyog, a larger FMCG company started by Ravi’s father, Pravin Kabra in 1980.
Ravi realised the existence of this formal gap when he was living in Australia (between 2018-19) and his sister came to visit him. “We enjoyed ice pops a lot in Sydney. So when my sister came from India to visit, she wanted to pack some and take it back with her,” he narrates, adding, “This became a turning point for us.”
Ravi and his wife, Anuja Kabra, started researching the market. After speaking to friends in different cities, the duo realised that the gap really existed.
“Initially, I was surprised because India is much hotter and more humid than Australia, and yet, does not have any formal players.”
In 2019, Ravi and Anuja, (while still in Australia), started their research and set up a unit in Hyderabad. They returned to India and were ready to launch the product in March 2020, when the nationwide lockdown was announced in the middle of the month, bringing everything to a grinding halt.
“It was a big loss for us as rentals, salaries and other expenses had to be taken care of,” Ravi recalls. The business couldn’t operate for a year – from March 2020 to March 2021. However, when the restrictions were lifted, Skippi made an entry into the market to a warm response.
“Our sales were booming because we realised that in the summer months, people who were mostly sitting at home wanted to consume ice pops,” he adds. Since its inception, Skippi has clocked revenues worth Rs 60 lakh.
Decoding the product and the market
Ravi says that there aren’t many brands in India that sell ice pops, with some of the sellers being Snackstar and Washington-based Zipzicle. However, Skippi differentiates itself as a “healthy, formal and organised” brand.
Currently, the brand offers ice pops in six flavours – Cola, Lemon, Raspberry, Orange, Mango Twist, and Bubble Gum.
A box of 12 ice pops costs Rs 240 and a bag of 36 costs Rs 666. These ice pops cost Rs 10 when purchased from a local vendor. However, Ravi is confident of the pricing and believes that they will survive competition from the unorganised market.
He explains, “Today’s consumers have become very health-conscious. They want to read the label and know everything.”
He also emphasises that the flavours are extracted from natural fruits and vegetables. For instance, in the Mango Twist ice pop, the colour is extracted from curcumin. Ravi clarifies that these extractions take place in different units that have tie-ups with Skippi. “We have visited these units and done quality checks to ensure that the quality is not compromised.”
He says that they are focused on producing natural products because the masses (especially, the parents) “trust us.”
“When my wife and I started out, our thought process was very clear. We will not sell anything that we cannot give our kids to consume,” Ravi notes.
Skippi sells through its own website as well as marketplaces such as Amazon and Flipkart, and also through 2,000 retail outlets across the country. Hyderabad is Skippi’s largest market followed by geographies such as Mumbai, Kerala, Mizoram, and more.
Going forward, Ravi is keen on exploring the international market. “The US, UK and Australia are massive industries that we want to get into.” However, it plans to start with the Middle East and African markets in the next 12-18 months and move to the European markets thereafter.
The brand also plans to introduce new flavours in the coming times and is not looking at any other category.
“At the moment, the market has enough demand for ice popsicles that we need to meet,” he notes.