Saturday, June 15, 2024

Ice cream industry tipped to lick competition

Latest research into New Zealand’s premium ice cream industry suggests exporters could find new buyers in valuable overseas markets as consumers increasingly look for tip top quality in food.

Economic Development Minister, Stuart Nash has today released a new report for the Food and Beverage Information Project. The project is run by government agencies MBIE, MPI and NZTE, who have oversight of innovation, primary industries and trade development.

“The new research finds scope to expand ice cream exports to Australia, Asia and the UK. It suggests premium ice cream could potentially follow the global success of premium wine and honey exports,” Mr Nash said.

“Ice cream is produced in almost every region in New Zealand and there are around 48 local manufacturers. The challenge is translating our strong global position in dairy exports into a lucrative global market for our ice cream and other frozen treats.

“Our first local ice cream makers started with some of the best milk and cream in the world more than 100 years ago and are still causing ripples. The frozen dessert sector covers alternatives to cow milk and plant-based indulgent treats as well.

“Consumers are interested in ice cream made of milk from sheep, deer, buffalo or goats. Plant-based ice cream from oat milk, coconut milk or soy milk has a growing global market. Gelato and sorbet utilise the best of our abundant horticultural produce.

“The humble hokey pokey in a cone is a Kiwi icon and an essential part of summer. But artisan producers have innovated with organic, seasonal and rich ingredients or flavours such as A2 milk, sea salt, peanut butter, hemp, and turmeric.”

Minister Nash said New Zealand’s free trade deal with the UK agreed in principle in 2021 held great potential for ice cream and other dairy exports.

“We look forward to duty-free access to the UK market for ice cream and a level playing field as soon as the FTA enters into force,” he said.

“Ice cream exporters can also respond to new consumer demands arising from the global COVID pandemic. There is growing interest in healthy, sustainable, low-carbon or vegan food, and premium products bought directly from supermarkets for consumption at home.

“Kiwi ice cream is well positioned to benefit from four global mega trends in the food and beverage sector. Consumers want easy and convenient meals; are concerned about their wellness and lifestyle; are mindful of where their food comes from and how it is produced; and like to indulge in products that are more than the bare necessities.

“New Zealand already has a global reputation as a great place to produce food. We have quality raw ingredients and low production costs; a skilled workforce and processing industry trusted by consumers; and close proximity or open access to key markets which are set to grow further with new trade agreements.”

The Minister said the report suggests ice cream producers build on existing strengths in the dairy export supply chain; target the premium market and formulate unique Kiwi flavours; and focus on a few developed countries where there is already high consumption of ice cream. 

“We have the natural ingredients, skilled producers and premium products that global consumers want and we have new opportunities to drive export growth,” said Mr Nash.

New Zealand already enjoys tariff-free access for ice cream under a number of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) in the Asia-Pacific region, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

This includes tariff-free access to China, NZ’s largest ice cream export market, under the New Zealand-China FTA; reduced tariffs into Japan, our second-largest export market, under CPTPP; and tariff-free access to Australia and other Asian markets (including Hong Kong, Korea, and Malaysia) through NZ’s network of FTAs.

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