Reliance Retail in talks with Buffett's Dairy Queen

Reliance Retail, part of Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries group, is learnt to be in talks with Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, for a possible foray into the quick service restaurant (QSR) business in India.

Berkshire is keen to launch its Dairy Queen (DQ) brand in India, but apparently wants to join hands with the Ambani-controlled retail chain. DQ operates nearly 6,000 outlets globally, selling products including burgers and hotdog, besides ice-cream.

Interestingly, last month McDonald's announced the launch of its McFlurry brand of ice-creams in India. ''The ice-cream market is estimated at Rs.2,000 crore in India and growing at over 12 per cent annually,'' said Amit Jatia, vice-chairman, Hardcastle Restaurants, which operates the McDonald's chain in south and west India. ''We believe we can play a role in growing this industry.''

While its existing ice-cream cones are sold for an average of Rs.12 a cone, McFlurry will be priced at nearly Rs.70 and will be marketed as a standalone desert snack.

Ahmedabad-based domestic ice-cream major Vadilal Industries, is also launching its frozen food – which it has been selling in the overseas markets – in India. It has tied up with several retail chains including Reliance, Food bazar, Hypercity and D-Mart to market its frozen food.

Though India has a huge per capita consumption of milk, its ice-cream consumption is marginal, just 300 ml per capita, slightly less than 1.5 per cent of the per capita in the US. International giants including Baskin-Robbins, Haagen-Dazs and Swensen are also expanding their presence in India, catering to the growing demand for ice-creams.