by Swatee Jog
In the summer, a couple of years ago when we ventured into the cool premise of Adityaa Ice Cream factory with my MBA students, we were delighted firstly to look around for ice cream everywhere. Isn’t it every person’s childhood dream? Then the pleasant surprise of being served the new flavours of Aamras and Magnus, two of its star flavours. It has always been a surreal experience visiting the Aditya Ice cream factory which I’ve been doing every year. And when the day’s newspapers across the country flashed the news that your own Aditya Ice Cream is bought over by global major Hindustan Unilever, Belgaumites were in for a huge surprise. Shivkant Sidnal, the man in the news today for this mega-buyout, spoke exclusively to Allaboutbelgaum.com. “It was a big opportunity which we grabbed’ gushes Sidnal.
A lot of contemplation was definitely there, but in the end, the offer from Hindustan Unilever was for the good of the brand, he says proudly.
For years now, almost every household in the Bailhongal-Neginhal region has known or had someone who works at the biscuit factory or the ice cream factory. The brothers, Shivkant and Sashikant have created a mark in the food business. The two factories in Bailhongal and Neginhal have put Belagavi on the nation’s business map. The Aditya Milk factory, if anyone has visited, is a spic and span facility that handles an average of over 2lakh litres of milk every day during peak season sourced from over 1500 farmers in the vicinity of which ice cream amounts to around 35% utilization of the milk collected. The rest is sold in plastic packaging, turned into milk powder or processed into butter, buttermilk, ghee, paneer, Shrikhand, etc.
The Indian Ice cream market is extremely fragmented with regional brands like Havmor, Frostee, Dairy Day, Hangyo, Vadilal, Kwality Walls (sold to HUL earlier) ruling the roost. What Unilever looked at Aditya Ice cream, apart from its exceptional flavours and quality was the robust distribution network. Sidnal credits the initial support, feedback from his father-in-law Mr. Vijay Sankeshwar and from Mr. Anand Sankeshwar of the VRL group for its extensive reach with logistics. Ice Creams are highly logistics-sensitive eating up as much as 30 percent of the cost. Aditya Ice cream has a fleet of trucks supplying ice cream every day to over 20,000 outlets, a large number of which are at petrol bunks, a strategy that worked really well with their ice creams available at every price point from Rs. 5, 10, 20 and more.
HUL has, for long, concentrated on the metros and now wish to look deep inside India’s hinterland to reach. They have little or no presence in Kerala whereas Aditya Ice cream has a strong presence from Kasargod to Thiruvanantpuram in Kerala and also in Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Goa which it strengthened in just 4 years. Aditya Ice cream and milk products also went in for a design change a few days ago, in keeping with the trend of giving brands a facelift to keep pace with the changing world.
Ask him whether HUL will continue with the Aditya Ice Cream brand given that they already have Kwality Walls, Magnum and Cornetto in their kitty, he is quick to respond that it will be a business call that the company will take. The arrangement is whereby HUL will currently use the manufacturing facility of Aditya Ice Cream at Bailhongal. Sidnal says he will now focus on developing the milk and milk products to the national level
Research and Development have played a large role in Aditya Milk’s success. Tell him about Magnus being as good as Magnum and he guffaws. Even the HUL guys were amazed with that, he says. All the travelling that they do across the world, especially to Europen countries, has helped him understand the ice cream business better. Aditya has tied up with famous Italian major PreGel to develop its unique ice cream flavors which is a strong USP for the brand.
Many an investor has shied away from investing in Belagavi, but Sidnal feels his love for Bailhongal was what made him set up the plant there. Moreover, Belagavi is conducive for business, he says, both geographically as well as opportunity-wise. Flight connectivity has definitely been a problem initially, but when you gotta do business, you must find a way out. A month and a half ago, the entire global team of HUL flew down to India to visit the factory and had to travel from Hubli.
As of now, Shivkant Sidnal is one proud man, having built a national brand from Bailhongal, which lured a global company like HUL. He may have scooped out his ice cream in HUL’s cup but counts on the cows for more success!