Hastings' iconic ice cream maker Rush Munro's is going national, after a leading supermarket chain gobbled up six months of supply in one sitting.
Just one month after Hastings-based Rush Munro's started a new organic product range, sales representatives offloaded 34,300 tubs of ice cream at their first pitch to Foodstuffs NZ, which owns the New World, Pak'nSave and Four Square supermarket chains.
Rush Munro's owner John Bostock, who is also New Zealand's largest organic apple producer, said the company had been overwhelmed by the appetite for organic ice cream.
"The timing is right for organic ice cream as consumers are so much more aware of where their food comes from.
"They want to eat quality but they also have an environmental conscience and want to know it's been produced sustainably. So it's important that we provide an organic choice in the freezer."
General manager Vaughan Currie said the new organic range took a long time to create. Every ingredient had to be organic and many were difficult to source.
"It's taken us almost two years to create the decadent organic flavours because sourcing organic ingredients on a commercial scale is challenging.
"For every flavour we have to have the right organic credentials. The regulations around organic certification are very strict in New Zealand.
"So we are sourcing whole organic scorched almonds, chocolate and ginger biscuits and then cutting them by hand and we make our coffee extract from scratch. We also batch churn the ice cream in small runs so much of the production is done by hand with little machinery. Everything is very artisan and not mass produced so a real labour of love."
Bostock said it was a big change for a little business, but the move to organics was in line with the Bostock Group philosophy of environmentally sustainable food production.
"There are over 30 ice cream brands in the freezer and we are seeing more of the big international players coming into our New Zealand market.
"It's a challenge for a small Hawke's Bay ice cream company to compete. But the move to organics is exciting and is our point of difference and will also be true to our traditional kiwi brand."
The ice cream would be one of just two organic ice creams available at supermarkets nationally.
Rush Munro's, founded in 1926, is New Zealand's oldest ice cream producer.
Currie added that the competition from overseas and a more discerning consumer has forced small New Zealand companies to rethink what they want to be known for.
"These big international ice cream companies have huge marketing budgets. We have to be more innovative and push our New Zealand story because our 90 year history, tradition and age old recipes are what sets us apart."
As part of the launch of the new organic ice cream, Currie said two caravans had been refurbished to take Currie and Bostock on a road trip around the North Island to give Kiwis a taster.
The Rush Munro's public ice cream parlour in Hastings had a limited supply of selected organic flavours available to the public but at present the full range would be available only at Foodstuffs supermarkets.