Coffee, tea and ice cream?

Coffee and tea have always been nice compliments to ice cream whether it’s a cup, cone or sundae. Of course, there are also affogatos or strange bubble tea concoctions found in tea shops throughout Asia. But what about coffee and tea complimenting ice cream sales? According to a new report from the Ice Cream Alliance (ICA), the United Kingdom trade association for the ice cream industry, tea and coffee sales are vital to the “ice cream parlour” sector.

The ICA surveyed its members to reveal what drinks and other foods they sell apart from ice cream, and tea and coffee were the most important product sectors. The survey revealed that 69% of ice cream parlours sell tea and coffee. The other two highest ranking product categories are confectionery and cakes — both at 61%.

Coffee and tea sales in ice cream parlours cater to a wide range of consumers: parents with children, the 20+ age group, and seniors. The ICA also reported that the beverages help boost sales in bad weather — fall and winter as well as rainy, chilly spring or summer days.

The ICA survey found that cappuccinos and lattes top the coffee category, with 83% of ice cream parlours selling them, followed by espresso-blended beverages (66%) and regular coffee (50%). In terms of tea, interestingly, fruit/herbal teas lead sales in ice cream parlours at 83%, followed by black tea with milk at 66%. Earl Grey tea was the most popular tea ordered in the sector this year.

“According to international accountancy firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, ice cream parlours is one of the few growth sectors on our struggling high streets,” said Zelica Carr, CEO of the ICA. “They are growing by 20% per year, which means by our calculations that there are over 1,200 parlours in the UK. That’s a large potential market for tea and coffee companies.”

Having analysed 67,157 premises in 500 town centres, PricewaterhouseCooper (PWC) reported that ice-cream parlours, together with nail bars, bookstores, coffee shops and craft beer bars, are one of a handful of growing sectors. Per PWC, overall, the high street is shrinking. For every 11 new high-street units, 16 close. Yet, the number of ice-cream parlours, historically seen as a seasonal seaside concept, rose by 20% last year.

Many foodservice establishments, from fast casual restaurants like Panera Bread and Pret à Manger to quick serve restaurants like McDonald’s have been stepping up their coffee and tea programs, so why not ice cream parlours. The ICA believes coffee and tea companies (and related equipment suppliers) should be looking more closely at growing their numbers of ice cream parlour customers as this is a booming sector. The addition of quality coffee and tea offerings would generate incremental sales at ice cream parlours, while providing roasters and tea companies with new customers to sell to.

For any tea and coffee businesses interested in targeting the ice cream parlour sector, there is an annual trade show, organised by the ICA, called The Ice Cream and Artisan Foods Show. It will be held in Harrogate, England 11-13 February 2020.

“This is a perfect place to showcase tea and coffee products for the ice cream parlour sector,” added Carr. “A good proportion of the 1,200 parlours around the country will attend, as well as owners, managers and buyers from across the catering and food retail sectors.

Suddenly, despite the less than ideal weather, I have a craving for ice cream and coffee, and I might not wait until after dinner…

  • Vanessa L Facenda, editor Tea & Coffee Trade Journal. She may be contacted via [email protected].

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