Ben Hill is a reporter for The New Zealand Herald

Lewis Rd Creamery takes ice cream plunge

Lewis Road’s ‘world class’ offering joins the busy market for your premium icecream dollar.
Lewis Road Creamery Ice cream
Lewis Road Creamery Ice cream

The war for your icecream dollar is heating up as the company responsible for the great chocolate milk frenzy dips its spoon into the market.

Icecream remains a firm favourite on Kiwi shopping lists. New Zealanders spent more than $180 million on the sweet stuff in supermarkets last year, an increase of $5m from 2014.

Lewis Road Creamery is the latest to enter the frozen fray with its own line of desserts.

In 2014, the manufacturer stirred up a consumer hit with popular and hard-to-find chocolate milk.

Although the icecream has yet to reach those levels of appeal, Lewis Road co-founder Peter Cullinane said the product was popular.

"We launched it about six weeks ago and the demand has been brilliant. It's going really well."

The manufacturer is looking at producing eight times more icecream than originally anticipated.

Cullinane said the company had a desire to craft an icecream that went against the grain.

"My view about dairy in New Zealand is that we're brilliant at milk production but we've never really taken the finished product that seriously.

"Why can't we do a world-class icecream? That's not to say there aren't others that are really bloody good, but that's our focus.

"The norm for icecreams more and more is the European style, where the impetus isn't on being super-creamy."

"We describe ours as having legs: when you dig the spoon in you almost take the icecream with you as opposed to carving out a piece."

But he wasn't holding his breath for the icecream to match the hype that surrounded the company's chocolate milk.

"I think, frankly, that the chocolate milk was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It was just one of those amazing events," Cullinane said.

"The lovely thing about icecream is that it's a big market in its own right, whereas the milk was a whole new market and no one had really done it before."

The New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers Association executive secretary Jenny de Lisle said there was an increasing appetite for premium icecreams.

"The family packs, the two-litre packs, they usually have a minimum of 10 per cent dairy fat in them, whereas the premium ones are usually 12 per cent-plus.

"They're more creamy and that's why you pay more per litre."

Icecream producers were attempting to capitalise on this by focusing more on their premium products, she said.

"It comes down to money.

"There's not much profit margin in the two litres and you're competing with the [supermarket's own] brands, so they get squeezed out on those two litre ones."

Tip Top director Kim Ballinger said quality ingredients were becoming increasingly important to shoppers.

She said Tip Top used artificial colours and flavours in its products until 2014, when they were replaced by natural alternatives.

"The move was in direct response to consumer feedback and research that showed 81 per cent of Kiwis were aware that artificial colours and flavours exist in most icecream brands, and 85 per cent would prefer to have natural colours and flavours in their icecream."

- Herald on Sunday

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