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Hot weather puts ice cream makers in a sweat

Swiss consumers are licking their way through more ice cream thanks to the hot weather Keystone Archive

Switzerland’s ice cream makers are battling to meet demand which has soared thanks to record-breaking summer temperatures.

This content was published on July 17, 2003 - 15:57

Sweltering consumers have emptied warehouses, and manufacturers are working overtime to replenish stocks.

Sales in Switzerland traditionally peak between April and September, depending on weather conditions.

But the recent heatwave saw reserves melt away even before the official start of summer on June 21.

Manufacturers say production reached record levels last month – the hottest June in 250 years, according to environmental historians.

The Lucerne-based Emmi group churned out 25 per cent more ice cream than the previous year, while Midor, the supplier of Swiss retail giant Migros, increased production by nearly a third.

At Emmi’s plant just outside the capital, Bern, employees are working three shifts a day, seven days a week.

Frisco, a subsidiary of the Swiss multinational Nestlé, is also working overtime to cope with increased demand.

“Frisco has never produced and sold as much ice cream before,” said Fredy Gauglitz, head of market research at Nestlé.

Feeling the heat

Unilever, Nestlé’s traditional rival on the global ice cream market, is also feeling the heat. Its Lusso brand has been leaving stores faster than stocks can be replenished.

“We have had to reinforce our logistics sector to make sure deliveries are made on time,” said Lusso spokesman Philipp Mathys.

Firms have had to take on extra staff: Emmi has increased its workforce by 30 per cent just for ice cream production.

“This is the busiest year we’ve ever had,” said Walter Diethelm, head of Emmi’s ice cream sector.

Lusso has hired an extra 50 employees, while Frisco has shifted people from its frozen food division.

Ice cream consumption

The Swiss consume seven to eight litres of ice cream per person, close to the European average. Scandinavians eat their way through 12.2 litres per capita.

But all this is way behind the United States, where the locals gobble their way through 23 litres per person each year.

Switzerland produces between 50 and 55 million litres of ice cream annually, with around 60 per cent of sold domestically, mostly in supermarkets. Smaller outlets account for sales of around ten million litres of ice cream.

Nestlé controls around a third of the domestic market, while Midor and Unilever hold down a quarter each. Smaller producers and specialist ice cream shops share the rest.

Plain vanilla is still most people's favourite flavour, accounting for almost half of all sales. Coffee, chocolate and strawberry corner are the scoop of choice for around eight per cent.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Switzerland produces between 50 and 55 million litres of ice cream each year.
Around 60 per cent is sold domestically, with vanilla accounting for nearly half of all sales.
The Swiss consume on average seven to eight litres of ice cream per inhabitant, way behind the United States where that figure reaches a whopping 23 litres.
Demand in Switzerland normally peaks between April and September.

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In brief

Switzerland's ice cream manufacturers are having trouble keeping up with demand due to the ongoing hot weather.

Some companies are working triple shifts, seven days a week to respond to orders, as well as hiring extra staff.

Production was increased in some cases by nearly a third in June, and July could see more of the same.

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