A Hawke's Bay ice cream manufacturer says the sweet taste of export success is likely to remain elusive despite Government optimism over foreign markets.
It comes as a Government study, released this week, claimed premium ice cream could become our next big export product.
The study stated there was growing demand for premium ice creams overseas and New Zealand was in a great position to benefit.
However, boutique producer Rush Munro's in Hastings says the export market is out of reach for many businesses, due to the high cost of producing ice cream in New Zealand.
Rush Munro's general manager Vaughan Currie said the cost of ingredients such as fresh fruit, milk and cream meant small ice cream businesses couldn't compete in most overseas' markets.
"We have opted out of export, and it is not for lack of perceived demand, as far as we are concerned we can't buy ingredients in New Zealand as cheaply as they can be sourced offshore," he said.
He said they had previously tried to break into international markets with their top-quality products, but had decided to keep their focus on the local and domestic market, including at their popular store on Heretaunga St West.
"We certainly don't have the ability to secure core ingredients at a low enough rate to create enough margin so that by the time you land [overseas] it is competing with some of these global brands."
The Government study claimed ice cream could potentially join the ranks of honey and wine among our top premium exports, with plenty of room to expand overseas.
"Following success in premium wine and honey exports, New Zealand is well
positioned for success with premium ice cream," the report read.
"Despite being the largest dairy supplier to Asia by far, New Zealand (US$37m) is currently a second tier ice cream supplier after Europe (US$281m).
"New Zealand is in the process of translating its strong position in the global dairy industry into strong ice cream exports."
The report claimed New Zealand had plenty of room to grow its ice cream presence in key markets such as Asia, UK and Australia.
Napier's Labour MP and Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash, who released the study on Wednesday, said premium ice cream from New Zealand would "target the ultra-premium end of the market".
"We can only compete internationally on quality, and not on being the cheapest product on the freezer shelf.
"New Zealand ice cream makers are best placed to target the ultra-premium end of the market.
"Premium ice cream, like the best of our wines and honey, has an established advantage because of our reputation for high quality - the trusted 'Brand NZ' and access to the best raw ingredients."
He said exporting was not for all businesses and would be better suited to those producers who can make ice cream on a large scale.
He said any local food or beverage producer wanting help to break into exporting should contact NZ Trade and Enterprise.