Both the artisanal and industrial gelato sector are expanding rapidly, so much so that according to some estimates, the forecast for 2021 is a figure of about US$ 3.4 billion dollars. New outlets are opening up on a daily basis, with both large gelato parlour chains and hand-made gelato workshops expanding, all of which signals interest in a bustling market, one which is overflowing with opportunities and potential.
India has an ancient tradition linked to the world of gelato, with a special type of ice cream, known as Kulfi, being particularly famous.
The recipe for Kulfi is long and complex and involves using boiled milk, sugar and fresh fruit. This mixture is hand-whisked in a copper pot placed in a wooden barrel filled with ice and salt. It is then flavoured with spices and aromas such as cardamom and nuts.
Especially over the last few years, increasing turnovers have made the gelato sector particularly attractive as an investment. The gelato sector has renewed itself: roadside carts and shacks selling desserts and ice cream have been replaced by large shops and chains offering various categories of products, to meet the tastes of a wide range of customers.
Gelato is usually eaten in restaurants and gelato parlours, as well as in the many makeshift vans or carts, found throughout urban areas, from Delhi to Mumbai.
And it was in the city of Mumbai itself, in the early 2000s, that gelato first became popular, with a large number of gelato parlours opening up, especially in the many shopping centres.
India’s fascination and love for gelato and for desserts as a whole and, given the tropical climate, the year-round consumption, make this an attractive country for opening up a gelato production company.
This trend clearly also has economic roots, linked to the growth in disposable income per capita among middle-class families, as well as to the increasing popularity of Western-style customs that are influencing Indian consumer habits.
These macroeconomic and microeconomic factors make the gelato business increasingly profitable year on year, attracting many new entrepreneurs into this sector.
The most popular flavours among Indian clientele include classics from the Western world such as chocolate and pistachio, as well as others rooted in the Indian tradition such as nuts, saffron or even local spicy desserts such as gulab jamuns and ras malai, both based on cardamom and rose water; or else flavours that recall local products such as the Bengali dish nolen gur, made with date palm jaggery, an ingredient made from the sap of the date palm tree, widely used in traditional recipes. A fascinating mix of old and new that makes the Indian artisan gelato market even more attractive to new proposals and combinations of flavour.
Another very popular gelato sector product among Indian consumers is yogurt, whose success is linked to the widespread use among Indians of curd milk.
This article contains some general indications that may be useful if you’re considering opening a gelato shop in India
- Do proper research
The first step when opening a gelato parlour should always be to carry out proper market research so as to assess which consumer target to concentrate one’s efforts on, evaluating its importance within the country. Evaluate risks and opportunities, considering the capital you are looking to invest in opening a new company. It is estimated that the average investment required to open a gelato parlour is between 5 and 10 lacs.
Drawing up a good business plan will help you understand what the best solutions will be to ensure the success of your gelato enterprise.
2. Define the format of your business
Choose the type of parlour you want to open – a take-way gelato shop, a gelato bar or a pastry shop /gelato parlour with seating, as well as defining what products to serve up to your customers. Indeed, serving hand-crafted gelato together with other products can help to prolong the sales season, making the most of the autumn and winter periods. Various types of product for different times of day can help to sell gelato on a year-round basis, thus increasing sales.
3. Geolocation of the parlour
Choosing where to locate your gelato parlour on the city map is important. The right area means choosing an area with a good supply of passers-by. Buying a gelato is usually an impulse decision on the part of customers; so your gelato parlour should be easy to access and have ample parking nearby.
The ideal would be to find an area with plenty of offices, schools, markets, shopping malls or well-frequented areas such as town squares or a pedestrian area, where traffic is limited and it is easier to stop off and enjoy a gelato.
- Equipment production purchases
Find out all about the best equipment to use in your operation, such as fridge-freezers and display cabinets as well as blast chillers. The ideal solution is to use equipment made by specialist manufacturers in the gelato sector, who will guarantee top-quality machinery that will be durable over time and who will provide good technical assistance to solve any technical problem with as fast a turnaround as possible.
5. Training and recruitment of the staff needed at a gelato shop in India
Depending on the size of the business, you will need to decide how many staff to hire. Regardless of how many employees you have, make sure to invest part of your budget in staff training. Take a look at the websites of the main gelato schools in Italy, to learn more about the art of gelato-making and get updates on all the news in the sector.
6. Getting the Licenses needed to open your business
It is important to get the bureaucratic and administrative documents you will need to start up your gelato shop, especially in as large a country as India, which is made up of different regions and is constantly evolving at state and administrative level, as the country continues to expand and grow.
Let's look at the main documents you will need to get to open your business:
- Registering the company
The first and most important step that an entrepreneur should take is to register, declaring the type of company, as well as the company ownership data to the local authorities
- Getting the FSSAI License (Food Safety and Standards Authority Of India)
This is the most important license to get in order to open a food business in India. The FSSAI license enables food business entrepreneurs to declare that they comply with food safety standards. It has a 14-digit registration number that has to be printed on every food package.
- Getting Local Municipal Authorization
Authorization from local authorities to run a business in a given territory.
- Registering for GST (Goods & Services Tax)
This registration has been in place since July 2017. It is a global tax for goods and services applicable throughout the country, seeking to simplify the tax system and promote investment.
There are quite a few licenses to get, and a number of bureaucratic steps required to open up one's own hand-crafted gelato shop, but you should not be discouraged by the amount of administrative steps. Indeed, India provides a growing market scenario in the gelato sector, a universe worth exploring for those who love to make good gelato, especially given the huge variety of raw materials available to help make new recipes and flavours.