According to Habbit Founder and CEO Dhruv Bhushan, the technology behind the development of the Wise Creams is ‘light years ahead’ of the industry, having managed to bring calories down from the general 250kcal or 260kcal per serving to between 30 to 50 kcal.
“This is the healthiest ice cream ever made on the planet, with less calories than half an apple and far less than a cookie, but tasting exactly the same as regular ice cream,” Bhushan told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“Ice cream recipes have remained more or less the same for many centuries because it really is something of a rocket science, from managing viscosity to melting points to textures and most importantly taste.
“Sugar is needed to make it sweet, and fat to make it creamy, so although many firms have been trying to make changes there will be issues such as a bitter or weird aftertaste or a lack of creaminess.
“What we have done is started with natural proteins and plant fibres to replace the fat content and still get the natural creaminess, so we’ve brought the fat content down from the usual 17% or so to just 2%; then we’ve also worked on using natural plant sweeteners like stevia to bring the sugar level down to zero – all while maintaining the exact taste and creaminess of regular ice cream.
“One of the biggest lower-calorie ice cream brands today is Halo Top, which is the fastest-growing in the US, and even they have only brought their calories down to 80kcal per serving and there are still some texture differences – our technology is light years ahead of the industry.”
Bhushan is currently targeting the more health aware, affluent consumers in India with the Wise Creams, which are mostly concentrated in major cities.
“These health aware folk are aware that traditional packaged foods are high in salt, fat, sugar and artificial ingredients and want to make a change – generally this is the top 10% of the population with significant household income, the best consumption power and are well-educated enough to have awareness,” he said.
“In India, this segment is generally concentrated in a few cities and are easier to target, but are also extremely brand-conscious, so the key here is to build a premium, aspirational, trend-setting brand, which we are trying to do.
“This also means that this segment is as good as the global premium segment, as the same characteristics will be present worldwide in premium consumers whether it’s Singapore, Dubai, etc. so the other thing is to make sure the Habbit brand is international, and recognized for being clean, natural, organic, and all those characteristics that this segment is looking for.”
Habbit’s Wise Creams are available in six flavours currently: Blueberry Crumble, Salted Caramel, Lychee Blush, Double Chocolate, Vintage Vanilla and Matcha Green Tea. These can be purchased as 2x500ml packs for INR899 (US$12.37) or 6x125ml packs for INR799 (US$10.99) online.
Other healthy products
Habbit also sells other health-focused products such as shakes and protein powders, all of which, along with the wise creams, have a key focus on protein.
“The main reason we’re looking so closely at proteins is because 85% of Indians are protein deficient, and it is hard to get enough protein from regular diets when so many are vegetarian here,” said Bhushan.
“Supplemental protein is usually marketed for bodybuilders or fitness enthusiasts and not suitable for the regular consumer as consumption would result in a heavy or bloated feeling.
“So what we’ve done here is work with a range of dairy and plant-based proteins to find the best fit, and one of our key ingredients is the organic yellow pea – using our processing, we’re able to obtain the highest protein content (88%) compared to all other plant-based ingredients, even hemp (which is usually about 36% in powder form).
Expansion and growth
Although Habbit products are currently only available in India, Bhushan has his eye on expanding soon, and hopes to bring Habbit to Singapore next year.
“It’s possible to build a huge company just focusing on the top premium 10% segment mentioned, with some 100 million to 130 million people in there alone, but we definitely want to go further,” he said.
“We hope to be in Singapore next year, at least by end-2022 as we do have many investors from there, and also are eyeing Dubai, the US and the UK.”
As for product expansion, he said that Habbit will be adding another five product categories to its portfolio by the end of the year: Chocolate bars, cookies, beverages, plant-based milks and salty snacks.
“We’ll also be building direct-to-home pipelines in the main target cities Delhi, Bangalore and Bombay to expand our offline presence and get all our products – even the ones difficult to ship around now such as wise creams – to as many consumers as we can,” he said.