Research from Mintel shows the total market value for ice cream sales in China increased by 90% between 2008 and 2014 to reach US$11.4 billion.
The take-home ice cream segment, which the Tip Top brand is targeting, remains a relatively small part of the overall category and has room to grow.
Tip Top will be sold online through Tmall, one of China’s leading e-commerce providers, operated by Alibaba Group.
Distribution will be handled by specialist frozen products distributor Zhuhai Ice Technology.
Taking a flexible ‘trial and learn’ approach using e-commerce will help Tip Top test the brand and products and be ready to capture future growth, said director of Tip Top Kim Ballinger.
“China is Fonterra’s biggest market and this trial is a small way we can add to our offering there,” he said.
“There will be a lot to learn from this trial program.”
“We know the brand, sales platforms and product formats will need to evolve to suit consumers’ changing needs.”
“But it is critical to get into the take-home segment early, get our systems up and running and learn what consumers want so we can quickly capture opportunities as they emerge.”
Tip Top will initially launch a 2L tub range, and is considering offering novelty sticks and bulk scoop products.
Chinese consumers will be able to order six flavors of Tip Top: Vanilla, Chocolate, Hokey Pokey, Cookies and Cream, Neapolitan, and Strawberry.
“Our research tells us that Chinese consumers want to know they are buying the exact same product that we eat in New Zealand,” said Ballinger.
“The product, packaging and flavors available in China are identical to what we sell in New Zealand which will help us give consumers assurances around quality and authenticity.”