Banana shaped ice cream, bear paw ice cream, nationalist ice cream, black garlic ice cream . . . it’s only a small selection of the odd shaped and flavoured ice creams with which Chinese can cool themselves during the coming hot season.
As the temperatures are rising rapidly in all regions of China, the ice cream makers are running overtime in filling the retail outlets with their latest products. Earlier, I reported on various new savoury ice creams. In this post, I will give you a peep into the most important trends in this product group for this year.
Guochao – national trend
I have introduced this trend in a recent post. It is one that I expect to last for a considerable and has plenty of potential to grow. It is not simply a trend among consumers, but one that is linked to the international political climate. As China is being attacked by Western politicians and media for multiple perceived ills, and the reaction of the Chinese nation is a growing interest in traditional Chinese values and other things Chinese. In the food and beverage industries, this is leading to the launching of foods in traditional shapes, traditional flavours, packaging inspired by old Chinese stories, etc.
Chicecream (Zhongxuegao) was and remains the leader in this segment. Look at a picture of a one of the latest products of this company.
These are regular pieces of art, with Chinese wisdom printed on the handles. I can imagine that you are hesitant to take the first bite after taking off the wrapper. However, after finishing the ice cream part, you will see that the first half of the proverb on the handle was hidden under the edible part. So, the cultural experience does not stop with finishing the food. In fact, if I were the marketing manager of Chicecream, I would launch a campaign in which consumers could get a free ice cream by handing in a complete set of all different proverbs.
A new ice cream with a traditional flavour has been launched by one of China’s oldest surviving seasoning makers: Liubiju (Beijing). Check out is ‘black garlic ice cream’.
I will add my tasting experience as soon as I am back in Beijing again.
The number of shapes in which ice cream is sold world wide is rather small (blocks, popsicles, cones, etc.). This is now changing radically in China. Dongbei Daban (Big Boss from the Northeast) has launched a ‘big fish tail’ ice cream.
Don’t worry about its taste; it is blueberry-flavoured and contains no fishy ingredients.
Here are two other odd shapes: twisted banana and bear paw
A number of ice creams with a fancy high-end appearance have been launched as well. There is the new pineapple ice cream by Dongbei Daban.
The combination of yellow pineapple ice cream, dark shiny chocolate and the sharply cut shape makes it a genuine piece of art, again.
Mengniu’s brand Suixinguo has added a ‘7-layer’ ice cream. Under its chocolate coat you will encounter blueberries, chocolate beads, orange sherbet and more.
This ice cream is not so much a piece of art as an adventure; a new experience with each bite.
Is that all? By all means: no! This is just a peek, not a full market report. If you want that report: you know where to find us.
Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975 and regularly travels to the remotest corners of that vast nation. He is a co-author of a major book introducing the cultural drivers behind China’s economic success