Nash delivers a tip top report on ice cream and its export potential – and maybe scientists will scoop up some research funding

We are pleased to report that science continues to loom large in the considerations of government policy-shapers.

We say this on the strength of something we noted in the Food and Beverage Information Project Report – Ice Cream, released this week to promote ice cream and its export potential.

The report says its information

“… will provide much greater insight into the industry, which is useful for a range of policy developments, from regulatory frameworks to investment in science and skills and facilitating access to international markets.”

We are uncertain, of course, whether this is a reference to science as we knew it before the Treaty of Waitangi was reinterpreted in recent years to require the merging of matauranga Maori with the teaching and practice of science.

On the other hand, we may find that ice cream was being made here long before Captain Cook turned up and appropriate Treaty partnerships – injections of the Maori knowledge that has become a politically critical component of modern-day Kiwi science and research – would greatly enhance the quality of the results.

The new report, “Opportunities in New Zealand ice cream and frozen novelties”, was commissioned by the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment as part of the Food and Beverage Information Project, run by government agencies involved in innovation, primary industries and trade development.

Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash seemed chuffed – and impish – when he released the report.  He said:

“Latest research into our premium ice cream industry suggests exporters could find new buyers in valuable overseas markets as consumers increasingly look for tip top quality in food”.


“The new research finds scope to expand ice cream exports to Australia, Asia and the UK. It suggests premium ice cream could potentially follow the global success of premium wine and honey exports,” Stuart Nash said.

Whether exporters need government-funded research to tell them they could find new buyers in export markets – blah, blah – is open to question.

But did you notice Nash’s tip top sense of fun?

Let’s go back a bit.  In 1936, Albert Hayman and Len Malaghan opened a store at 36 Manners Street in Wellington, the first to specialise in Ice Cream & Milk Shakes. Within a few years a string of similar stores was dotted around the lower half of the North Island and the top of the South and in July 1936 the Tip Top Ice Cream Company was registered as an official company and manufacturer.

Further down, Nash’s statement says our first local ice cream makers started with some of the best milk and cream in the world more than 100 years ago

“… and are still causing ripples”. 

Stuff  headlined the Minister’s news “Rich rewards if NZ takes a bigger scoop of the world ice cream market; report while Mirage News stuck with the Beehive press statement heading, “Report trumpets scope for ice cream exports”.

Nash noted that ice cream is produced in almost every region in New Zealand and there are “around 48 local manufacturers” (which suggests the research failed to establish exactly how many manufacturers are having a lick at making this stuff).

He went on to say the challenge is translating our strong global position in dairy exports into a lucrative global market for our ice cream and other frozen treats.

The frozen dessert sector covers alternatives to cow milk and plant-based indulgent treats as well.

Nash further enlightened us by observing:

“Consumers are interested in ice cream made of milk from sheep, deer, buffalo or goats. Plant-based ice cream from oat milk, coconut milk or soy milk has a growing global market. Gelato and sorbet utilise the best of our abundant horticultural produce.

“The humble hokey pokey in a cone is a Kiwi icon and an essential part of summer. But artisan producers have innovated with organic, seasonal and rich ingredients or flavours such as A2 milk, sea salt, peanut butter, hemp, and turmeric.”

He mentioned our free trade deal with the UK, agreed in principle in 2021, saying it holds great potential for ice cream and other dairy exports.

“We look forward to duty-free access to the UK market for ice cream and a level playing field as soon as the FTA enters into force.”

Ice cream exporters can also respond to new consumer demands arising from the global COVID pandemic, Nash said.

There is growing interest in healthy, sustainable, low-carbon or vegan food, and premium products bought directly from supermarkets for consumption at home.

Did he mention a demand generated by climate warming?

If so, we missed it.  But he did say Kiwi ice cream (he avoided describing it as Aotearoan ice cream) is well positioned to benefit from four global mega trends in the food and beverage sector.

Consumers want easy and convenient meals; they are concerned about their wellness and lifestyle; they are mindful of where their food comes from and how it is produced; and they like to indulge in products that are more than the bare necessities.

The press statement included a note to editors  setting out key findings in the report.

  • NZ ice cream exports are growing in value but volumes have been relatively flat at 10-12,000 tonnes per year for around 15 years
  • NZ exported around US$36 million of ice cream in 2020, just 0.3% of the value of our total US$11.2 billion in dairy exports
  • China and Japan take 72% (US$26 million) of our ice cream exports but NZ is only a minor player in the wider Asian region. Around US$281 million of ice cream was sold in Asia by European producers in 2019.
  • Australia should be a key market given its proximity but NZ ice cream is worth just US$5 million of the US$75 million of ice cream imported by Australia in 2020. NZ has lost market share in Australia to North American and European brands in the past decade.
  • The UK imported more than US$400 million worth of ice cream in 2020, almost all of it

The report says ice cream was identified as a growth sector in the previous ”Emerging Growth Opportunities” research and emerged from a multi-stage screen designed to identify products New Zealand could send to Britain post-Brexit.

Part of a wider suite of work profiling and supporting the New Zealand food and beverage industry, it is the latest in a series aimed at delivering investment into growth sectors of the New Zealand food and beverage industry.

Without this publicly funded research – we are led to suppose – investors would not have known a growth sector from a declining one.

Other sectors profiled have included honey, salmon, chocolate, cherries, alcoholic spirits, blueberries, non-alcoholic beverages and pet food.

Latest from the Beehive

Report trumpets scope for ice cream exports

Latest research into our premium ice cream industry suggests exporters could find new buyers in valuable overseas markets as consumers increasingly look for tip top quality in food.

2 thoughts on “Nash delivers a tip top report on ice cream and its export potential – and maybe scientists will scoop up some research funding

  1. NZ will really punch above its weight in international ice cream when it markets indigenous flavours inspired by matauranga Maori – fern root and paua ripple will sweep the world.


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