LUMI is wholly owned by Australian bottling giant Coca-Cola Amatil.
“The aim was to create a product that tastes just as good as traditional dairy, but make it guilt-free [so people will] feel comfortable eating it,” LUMI General Manager Rebecca Matchado told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“Our soft serve is low-fat, low-sugar, gluten-free, vegan and low-calorie – in fact there is less calories in it per serving (no more than 77 calories, depending on the flavour) than there is in an apple.”
LUMI soft serve is primarily made out of fruit juice and fruit puree. All colours and flavours used are natural and it uses a unique stabilizer blend of the company’s own creation to achieve and maintain a creamy flavour and texture.
“We also do not use any artificial sweeteners to sweeten it – the sweetness comes from natural fruit-occurring fructose sugar,” added Matchado.
Although LUMI’s primary target audience comprises young female adults in their early twenties, she added that it has ‘broad appeal’ and potential.
“It would also appeal to anyone who is health-conscious but doesn’t want to compromise on taste, and even those who are more senior [and dare not indulge for health reasons] too,” she said.
LUMI soft serve machines are currently available at a variety of locations across Australia, at A$3.00 (US$2.08) per serving. Although 35 flavours have been developed by the company, some of the most popular in market currently include mixed berries, strawberry, mango and coconut.
Presence and expansion
According to Matchado, Australia is a ‘premier market’ for soft serve, being both ‘health conscious’ and also ‘keen to reduce sugar and fat intake’.
Mintel research showed that Australia ranked second in terms of global ice cream consumption in 2016, consuming 9.4 litres per capita in 2016 behind Norway at 9.8.
Additionally, Statista research showed that Australia’s revenue from the ice cream market segment is expected to reach US$846m in 2019, and to grow steadily until at least 2023.
That said, although Australia is LUMI’s launchpad and stronghold, Matchado told us that it is also currently being trialled in India, Japan and Indonesia, albeit at a smaller scale.
“We are also looking to go to China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand,” she added.
Challenges and future developments
One of the major challenges that LUMI has faced so far when trying to break into new markets is that of category identity.
“We’re not in the ice cream category, nor are we in the fruit category, so when trying to define where we stand [for export purposes], sometimes we even needed a whole new category,” said Matchado.
“There’s nothing else out there quite like it, it’s a whole new product, which means we also have had to do quite a lot of customer education to overcome the skepticism [for example about its non-dairy yet creamy texture].”
Moving forward, LUMI will be looking at upgrading its equipment, retail manufacturing format and flavour innovation.
“We’re hoping to get a machine out that can also handle equipment and topping addition (currently done manually) by the end of this year. The same timeline applies for manufacturing the soft serve in pints for retail,” said Matchado.
The company also intends to focus on NPD not just in terms of new flavours, but also from a functional (high protein, high fibre, etc.) aspect.