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Entrepreneur Runs His All-Organic Icecream Factory on Solar Energy; Earns Rs 12 Cr/Year

Inspired by abundant milk in his hometown Nellore, Suhas B Shetty founded Iceberg Organic Icecreams to provide preservative-free, organic options to customers. Distributed across 70 outlets, here’s the story behind his ice cream empire!

Entrepreneur Runs His All-Organic Icecream Factory on Solar Energy; Earns Rs 12 Cr/Year

Summer days stretch long and lazy, with the relentless sun casting a golden haze over everything. Amidst the current heat waves rippling through the air, relief options seem scarce.

Despite the downsides of the heat, there is one thing we can indulge in without fear: icecream, the ultimate saviour. Its cool, creamy sweetness offers a momentary escape. Each lick is a refreshing reprieve, a blissful pause in the day’s blazing intensity, taking us back to the good old childhood days.

However, these icy delights might also come with some guilt. Loaded with preservatives, artificial colouring, and sugar, most icecreams can be unhealthy.

“If you look at the packaging of most brands, they do not even meet the standards of being an icecream. They are frozen deserts loaded with a lot of vegetable oils which are very unhealthy,” Suhas B Shetty, the founder of Iceberg Organic Icecreams, tells The Better India.

Suhas too loved devouring icecreams but could not find healthy alternatives. This is when he decided to make his own brand — Iceberg Organic Icecreams based out of his hometown in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh.

Road to home and entrepreneurship

Born and raised in Nellore, Suhas moved away from home for education. “I moved to different cities for my senior schooling and graduation. I had spent so much time away from home that I had this longing to be back in my hometown,” he says.

After completing my PhD in pharmacy, I decided that it was time for me to move back and stay closer to my parents. “But this move also meant that I had to look for different avenues of income,” he says.

“I come from a humble background and setting up my own pharma company or outlet in Nellore was not a possibility. While I had never thought actively about entrepreneurship, it was along the way that I realised that it might be my calling,” he adds.

When Suhas moved back home in 2013, he realised that he had something in abundance — access to pure milk. “In big cities, pure and organic milk can be very expensive, but here, I could buy it for as low as Rs 55. I decided to think in that direction and it dawned on me that an ice cream business might flourish in Nellore,” he recalls.

The startup uses Mishri, a natural sweetener instead of sugar in the icecream.
The startup uses Mishri, a natural sweetener instead of sugar in the icecream.

Additionally, Suhas’ grandparents made icecreams when he was a kid. “Almost two decades ago, they had a small local icecream business. My inspiration also comes from them. Initially, I turned to their recipes and knowledge to start my manufacturing business,” he says.

With the main ingredient used in making icecream available to him in abundance and his grandparents’ recipes, he decided to open a small outlet and shop in Nellore.

“At first, I made 45 litres of icecream and within two days of opening the store, the icecreams were sold out. The sales were quite organic; word spread around the town and we had a lot of people visiting the shop. I had to close my shop for one day and increase production. On the fifth day, we came with double the stock and have never looked back since,” he shares.

“We were making great sales and opened another shop in Nellore. Within three years, I have established more than 15 stores across South India,” he says, adding that he was quick to get into the B2B business of franchising his icecream across the state.

Currently the company makes six to seven lakh litres of icecream every month.

Switch to organic icecreams

While Suhas was making good profits, the work began to feel monotonous. “I was reinvesting all the earnings from my business back into the same model. However, I soon realised that this wasn’t the direction I wanted for my business. I was looking for more; a satisfaction that I was doing something good. I wanted to stay in the food business but I wanted to do something more,” he says.

“At the same time, the idea of sustainable and organic living was being circulated,” he shares, adding that that’s when he realised that it might be the right time to switch and give people an alternative to regular icecreams.

“I thought, ‘Why not target the market for organic icecreams?’ Considering the popularity of organic products like biscuits, namkeen, and even agarbatti, I saw an opportunity. There are even brands for organic smokes, so why not icecream?” he recalls.

In 2017, the company started producing organic icecreams. “Regarding the product, we majorly focus on the ingredients. We use only the desi cow milk, which is why I have set up my manufacturing facility in a tier 2 town like Nellore. In larger cities, this milk is sold at approximately Rs 150 per litre, but in tier 2 cities, I can get it for Rs 50 to 60 due to the lack of awareness and demand.”

This strategy allows him to achieve sustainable business growth by utilising local materials and cutting cost, he informs. “We also replace sugar with mishri, a natural sweetener, in our icecream. We use organic butter and vegetable-extracted colours. Importantly, we do not use any preservatives or stabilisers in our products,” he informs.

“We use a product called edible gum, also called gondh, as a preservative. We have developed a process to use gondh as a preservative ingredient in our icecream. This ingredient is organic and helps us achieve an average shelf life of six to eight months, depending on the flavour. We are also in the process of obtaining a patent for this method, which is currently pending. We expect to receive the patent within the next three to four months,” he says.

Both of Suhas' manufacturing units run on solar energy.
Both of Suhas’ manufacturing units run on solar energy.

Apart from producing 100 percent natural and organic icecreams, the company also follows sustainable practices in their production process. He shares, “I had always been egar to be as sustainable in my lifestyle as possible. In an effort to do so, I decided to utilise the abundant sun to power my factory. Both of my factories in Nellore are powered by solar energy. It cost me about Rs 45 lakh. Currently, my factories run on 80 percent solar energy.”

Additionally, the wastewater generated from cleaning the machinery is recycled using an ETP plant, and the recycled water is utilised for gardening purposes.

Talking about the various innovative flavours that the company makes, he says, “Our product range includes classic flavours like vanilla, butterscotch, and chocolate, as well as fruit flavours — such as pitaya, tender coconut, mango, chikoo, and jackfruit. We also offer innovative flavours like charcoal, which creates a striking black-coloured icecream. This unique flavour is a standout in our product lineup. We produce the charcoal by burning coconut shells and then using the resulting charcoal as an ingredient in our charcoal icecream.”

“In addition to our existing range, we have recently introduced a traditional milk category — featuring camel milk icecream, goat milk icecream, and donkey milk icecream. We are proud to be the first brand to offer these unique categories,” he adds.

Maheswaram Kumar, a regular customer says, “The best thing about their delicious icecream is the various unique flavours. I personally love the jackfruit, chilly guava and coconut-flavoured icecreams. There is no guilt to have as much as you want as they do not have any sugar and are made with organic butter and oil.”

Currently, the company has around 70 physical outlets, which include both franchise and company-owned stores.

“Additionally, we have around 100 ‘dark’ stores, which operate on platforms like Zomato and our own website. We refer to this as the dark model. These stores are targeted towards tier 1 cities such as Mumbai, Pune, NCR, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Ahmedabad, and Kolkata. This approach falls under our B2C strategy,” he says.

The brand currently makes a revenue of Rs 12 crore per year.

Talking about the future, Suhas says, “We are also introducing icecream cakes with a completely organic touch, as well as whole wheat-based cakes. Unlike traditional cakes made with maida, our icecream cakes and other products will use whole wheat. This ensures a healthier option for our customers.”

You can try their organic icecreams here.

(Edited by Pranita Bhat; All images credit: Suhas)

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