The New Zealand Ice Cream Association
The New Zealand Ice Cream Association
1991 - 2010 Contents
1800 - 1910
1911 - 1930
1931 - 1950
1951 - 1970
1971 - 1990
1991 - 2010
2010 - now

Taking on the World

- The Tip Top Christchurch plant underwent a major upgrade to cope with increased export demands, and to meet the standards and requirements of (in particular) the Japanese market. The plant was optimised for the production of high-value, small-pack, super-premium ice cream made under extremely tight hygiene standards.

                                                                Tip Top Paradiso.

1993 - United Dairy Foods (New American brand) became a wholly owned subsidiary of New Zealand Cooperative Dairy Company Limited (NZCDC), New Zealand's largest dairy company.

April 1997 - Tip Top was purchased (from Heinz Watties) by a West Australian food processor, Peters & Browne’s Foods. This merger of Peters & Browne’s and Tip Top created the largest independent ice cream business in the Southern Hemisphere with combined sales of $550 million.

Shortly afterwards, Tip Top purchased the United Dairy Foods factory in Otahuhu, and closed it down, transferring equipment to its Auckland and Fiji operations. Tip Top was refused permission by the Commerce Commission to purchase the whole New American business over fears of reduced competition.

United Dairy Foods continued to own and distribute New American brand take home ice cream, with Tip Top manufacturing and packing the product under contract.

An estimate of the size of the New Zealand ice cream market by the Commerce Commission for the year ending 2 November 1997, concluded that take home ice cream sales were worth about $54 million, representing approximately 29 million litres.

September 1997 - Tip Top Memphis Meltdown Gooey Caramel was launched, a technical world-first for Tip Top ice cream technologists, a "triple-dipped" premium ice cream stick novelty with a caramel sauce layer between double-coatings of real chocolate. The technology was patented in the United States.

September 1999 - Deep South opened a second, brand-new, export-accredited factory in Connaught Drive, Hornby, Christchurch.

The Ice Cream Awards

was the year that the first annual nationwide competition amongst ice cream manufacturing companies was held, the New Zealand Ice Cream Awards. Manufacturers and artisan producers compete across 10 or more product categories, with a panel of independent judges awarding medals, category winners, and an overall Supreme Award.

The very first winner of the Supreme Award was Mel-O-Rich Boysenberry Ripple, made by Mel-O-Rich Products Ltd, Miramar, Wellington.

The Award was accepted by Mr John Murphy, owner of Mel-O-Rich, and President of the Association at the time! The honour was completely appropriate, as John had been one of the driving forces behind the establishment of the national Ice Cream Awards, to help foster innovation and quality.

The Awards have become an annual institution - judging is held each May (originally at Massey University Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health (IFNHH), Albany campus, but later moved to The FOODBOWL, Mangere, Auckland), 3 weeks prior to the Association’s Annual Conference.

Photo: Ice Cream Awards judging, 2008, Massey University Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health (IFNHH), Albany campus. Chief Judge Kay McMath, right.

An expert panel of dairy judges allocate points for Appearance (10 points), Body and Texture (30 points), Flavour (50 points) and Melting Properties (10 points). Gold Awards are given to entries with more than 95 points, Silver Awards to those between 90 and 95 points.

Kids Choice category submissions are judged by an invited panel of school children.

In 2008, Invercargill's Deep South won the Best Standard Vanilla ice cream category for the sixth year running.

Lick or Spoon?

22 October 2008
- It's the question on every ice cream-lover's lips - does ice cream taste better when licked off a cone, or when eaten with a spoon?

Massey University sensory scientist Kay McMath was reported in The Press as putting her scientific weight on the side of the lickers. McMath, who is also Chief Judge for the New Zealand Ice Cream Awards, said the flavour and aroma in an ice cream is released when warmed inside the mouth. Licking coated the tongue with a thin layer, so it was more quickly warmed and the flavour readily detected by the tastebuds.

Eating icecream with a spoon delivered a larger volume and smaller surface area to the roof of the mouth, tending to keep the ice cream colder for longer, before swallowing.

McMath said that because ice cream was eaten in smaller amounts when licked, the full melt and flavour was released with every lick.

The Ice Cream Code Of Practice

- The NZ Ice Cream Manufacturers' Assn published the ice cream industry's voluntary quality and food safety standard - an Ice Cream Code Of Practice.

This "outcome-based, HACCP-based, science based Code of Practice (COP) for the specialist manufacture of ice cream contains minimum required food safety standards agreed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), the Ministry of Health (MOH) (responsibilities now incorporated into the New Zealand Food Safety Authority - NZFSA, itself since incorporated into the Ministry of Primary Industries, MPI) and the ice cream industry.

The Code of Practice forms a basis from which businesses can develop a food safety programme (FSP) or product safety programme (PSP) for the production of ice cream for sale in New Zealand and Australia."

Gelato & Sorbet

The 1990s and 2000's had seen further consolidation of the ice cream manufacturing industry, but it also saw the appearance of small, specialist and artisan producers offering traditional European-style ice creams, upmarket super premium ice creams, and healthier, more 'natural' frozen treats such as sorbets.

Italian-style gelato, in particular, could command higher prices than standard scoop ice cream, with attractive presentation, strong flavours and a boutique, hand-made image.

                Photo: Gelato, sorbet and ice cream dessert display, Ginelli's, Mission Bay, Auckland, June 2010.
- Chris Newey.

The Dairy Industry Returns

On the 18th June 2001 Tip Top Ice Cream became part of Fonterra Co-operative Group after Fonterra purchased the Peters and Browne’s Foods Business.

The New Zealand dairy industry now had control of the country's largest ice cream manufacturer, and Tip Top was now owned by a true multinational.

September 2005 - Kapiti Fine Foods' brand new $10m ice cream factory was commissioned, the first in Australasia to use revolutionary new low temperature churning technology. Just two months later, Fonterra announced that it had agreed to acquire Kapiti from its owners, Foodstuffs Wellington and United Milk.

2007 - Tip Top closed its Christchurch export plant.

- Tip Top produced the world's first novelty ice cream wrapped in marshmallow, Memphis Meltdown Rocky Road.

A team of 100 people spent more than 2,000 man hours and went through 12,500 litres of pink marshmallow before finally coming up with the final product, a chocolate ice cream rippled with raspberry jelly, dipped in pink marshmallow, and smothered in chocolate, nuts and coconut - on a stick.

December 2010 - Deep South Ice Cream was sold by the Simon family to Christchurch business consultants Mike Killick and Alex Hopkins.

2011 - now

1971 - 1990

Sources, references and related sites:

New Zealand Natural Premium Ice Cream

NZ Ice Cream Manufacturers Assn. archives.

New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers' Association (NZICA) Oral History Project; held at NZICA archives and Alexander Turnbull Library.
- Shona McCahon, Oral historian.

Tip Top Ice Cream Co. archives:

BackBack to The History of Ice Cream in New Zealand

New Zealand Natural

New Zealand Natural began as a small ice cream business in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1984 that specialised in ice cream with no artificial colours or flavours.

Rael Polivnick, a South African entrepreneur and Australian resident, met the owner on a plane shortly after it opened, and this chance meeting led to him purchasing the Australian rights to the brand, and opening the first New Zealand Natural premium ice cream parlour at Bondi Beach, Sydney in 1985.

Polivnick settled on a franchising model as the best way of growing the business, and the first franchised store was opened in 1990.

Photo: Early New Zealand Natural kiosk.
- Emerald Foods Group.

The business was purchased from Polivnick in July 2005 by New Zealand-based Emerald Foods, run by entrepreneur Diane Foreman.

In April 2021, Emerald Foods was purchased by Hart family food business Walter & Wild.

The Auckland factory produces almost all of the ice cream for the company's franchised network of over 700 branded outlets in 22 countries. Today the brand has diversified to include a range of ice-creams for retail, grocery and foodservice.

The ice cream has always been made in New Zealand.

" Our ice cream has always been proudly made in New Zealand, using the freshest and purest cream and ingredients." explains Shane Lamont, New Zealand Natural's Managing Director.

            - Emerald Foods Group

Copyright © The New Zealand Ice Cream Association (Inc.)
PO Box 9364, Wellington,
Telephone +64 4 385 1410.
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