An Auckland company which uses coconuts instead of milk to make its ice cream has signed a deal to supply Asia's biggest childcare centre with its sweet treat.

Wahiki Creamery has so far sold 6500 tubs of its dairy-free ice cream to Cathay Future, which owns and operates kindergarten centres throughout China and Asia which has 20,000 children enrolled.

Wahiki prides itself on being vegan and low in sugar, and made its debut at China's annual ice cream trade show last month where it received a healthy reception.

"People kept saying 'this is great for kids,'" chief executive Haman Shahpari said.


While ice cream is not sold - or permitted - in daycare centres and primary schools in New Zealand, in China it's sold through in-house canteens.

"The childcare centres over there realised that kids are already eating ice cream so they might as well try to give them something that is better for them so they provide us as an alternative," Shahpari said.

Takanini-based Wahiki has already shipped 250 cartons of ice cream to China, the equivalent of three and a half pallets.

Shahpari said the opportunities for the brand in China were huge, particularly given the population's interest in health and wellness products.

"The Chinese are a progressive market when it comes to food and are active and enthusiastic about providing their population with better-for-you products."

Last year, Wahiki sold 23,000 tubs of its ice cream in its first year of business. Next year, it forecasts sales of between 200-300,000 tubs.

Shahpari expects China sales to outstrip New Zealand volumes "very quickly".

China is Wahiki's first major export market. It also ships ice cream to Rarotonga and is looking at expansion into the US, Canada and the Middle East.


Wahiki, which means 'time out' in Māori, was established in October 2016.