Ice cream sales suffer summer meltdown

Thursday 01st Sep 2011 by theWeather Club

Hot on the heels of the news that this has been the coolest summer since 1993 comes the news of some of its economic consequences. Luxury ice cream sales in Scotland have melted away as a result of the poor weather and tough economic conditions, according to producers. The Ice Cream Alliance, which represents more than 600 businesses in the UK, said firms were also being squeezed by rocketing costs for raw materials.

The trade body warned that some manufacturers could even be forced out of business unless conditions improved. Alliance president Andrew Caldwell - who runs a parlour in the borders town of Innerleithen - said business was getting increasingly tough for manufacturers. He revealed sales in his own business were 20% down on this time last year. “I have been involved in making ice cream for 34 years and I can't remember things being this bad,” he said. “One of the biggest challenges has obviously been the weather - it has been absolutely atrocious… We have big ice cream trailers which we take to fetes, agricultural shows and so on and we've not had one good weekend since the beginning of June. I think people are also finding it difficult financially at the moment. In the past we found they would buy a big cone, while they are now going for a small or medium one instead.”

He added: “I would think a few ice cream manufacturers will go to the wall if things don't improve. I have been involved in making ice cream for 34 years and I can't remember things being this bad.”

Other ice cream manufacturers, such as Gatehouse, have also reported a slowdown in sales. The firm makes about 200,000 litres of ice cream per year through its Galloway farm.  It too is bidding to tackle the twin challenges of running a weather-dependent business while meeting rising energy and raw material costs. Managing director Wilma Finlay said: "Ice cream sales are down about 10% on last year. In April, the weather was very good but May and June just didn't happen. Usually there is an early spell but we didn't get that boost so it is difficult to expand just now.” About 45% of Gatehouse’s sales are within 50 miles of the farm but it also relies on sales to supermarkets, where margins have been squeezed.

However one leading manufacturer - Mackie's of Scotland - said sales were “holding up quite well”, despite the poor weather in Scotland. The Aberdeenshire-based company, which produces 11 million litres of luxury ice cream a year, pointed out that it had benefited from being a nationwide distributor.

Managing director Mac Mackie said: “Weather certainly impacts on sales. We had fantastic April weather and it has been slightly downhill ever since. We sell our ice cream across the UK, which makes the difference. I think the weather in England has not been too bad, while Scotland has had a fairly cold summer. We are doing well, given the summer we have had.”