The frozen food industry often holds up the product as a success story and a prime example of how value can be added to the sector but Rebecca Manfredi, boss of Suncream Dairies in Staffordshire, questioned whether consumers were getting value for money.
Manfredi, who produces 13Ml of ice cream a year, largely for the foodservice and wholesale markets, said: “From a retail perspective the luxury ice cream market has been a massive success story over the last few years but I do think it is excessively expensive.
“I can tell you how much margin there is in ice cream because I know what we are paying for our raw materials. I feel like that end of the market is, in some aspects, a little overpriced.”
According to Mintel, the UK ice cream market was valued at £841M last year, with the premium end accounting for a quarter of value sales with consumers perceiving it as an ‘affordable luxury’.
Manfredi is fully aware of the manufacturing costs of producing a luxury brand after recently moving into the higher-end market for foodservice customers with her Gelato Gold range.
“15 years ago I felt I had to make a decision about going down the value or the luxury route because the market was beginning to split. Until then, we had always tried to tread the middle path. I decided we’d focus on the value route with our Summertime range and that is how we’ve been able to build. It is low margin so we shift a lot of volume and that has enabled the funding of the new range, the Gelato Gold, a luxury ice cream.”
Since its launch in March, the new range has found favour with foodservice outlets that use it as a standalone dessert at ice cream parlours and cafés.
'Better for the consumer'
“I felt like we could come up with a really good product that still made us a decent return, while also offering something better for the consumer,” she added.
Manfredi decided to remove Suncream from the retail sector where it supplied several co-operatives in the late 90s.
So, would she be tempted to compete in the luxury market with a product that was less expensive?
“One day, watch this space,” was her reply.
Read our full feature interview with Manfredi here.