I think almost everyone enjoys the timely witticisms that are Amul billboards. However, Hindustan Unilever Ltd isn’t laughing and last week they filed a petition against Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) Amul’s parent company. They claim that its advertisement disparages frozen desserts and should be removed.
In an alarming development for Amul, at least two more ice cream makers are joining forces with HUL, who owns Kwality Walls. Two Vadilal group companies are co-petitioners, while Pabrai’s Fresh and Naturelle Ice-Cream, based in Kolkata, is planning on impleading themselves in the case.
Here’s where it gets a bit tricky. According to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), ice-cream made with vegetable oil have to be labeled “frozen desserts” while only those with milk fat in it can be legally called “ice cream”.
The problem is that Amul’s advertisement carries the tagline “Real Milk, Real Ice Cream” which implied that ice-cream made with dairy fat has better quality. Pabrai, whose firm is the member of the Indian Ice Cream Manufacturers Association, said that other firms who are part of the grouping are also considering joining the case. His issue with the commercial is due to the fact that they have some companies who make only ice creams, some who make only frozen desserts, and some who make both. Members who made frozen desserts were upset with Amul’s misleading ads and made a subgroup of their Association’s WhatsApp group” to figure out what steps need to be taken.
HUL emailed a statement which stated that Amul had been airing a ‘misleading’ television commercial since March 2017 which makes factually incorrect statements creating apprehensions among consumers of Frozen Desserts.
Unfortunately, this war between frozen dessert and ice cream is by no means a new one. It, in fact, dates to when FSSAI first implemented these controversial definitions way back in 2011.
Not surprisingly, HUL had filed a case regarding this advertisement in October 2016 but the court ruled in Amul’s favor. GCMMF managing director defended Amul’s actions by stating that he wasn’t telling customers what to think but just aiding in information in order to ensure they are better educated to make better choices. GCMMF are the leaders in the ice cream and frozen dessert market in 2016 with 17% market share and clearly are fighting to retain their title
According to Harminder Sahni, founder of retail advisory firm Wazir Advisors, most people care about the healthiness of their ice-cream as it is eaten only occasionally, depending on the taste that appeals to them. Kwality Walls has only responded to Amul’s aggressiveness on highlighting the difference between frozen dessert and ice-cream. Who knew that ice cream (and frozen desserts) had such a dark underbelly?