Ice-Cream Buzz: China likely to keep enjoying ice cream beyond summer
While summer is winding down, you'll be able to satisfy your ice cream fix for a good while yet. Ice cream sales are on the rise in China as shops roll out special flavors to attract customers. CGTN reporter Xu Xinchen has more from Southwestern China's Chengdu city.
It's Sichuan peppercorn as garnish on gelato — an Italian style ice cream. And the Sichuan pepper gelato is making a lot of buzz this summer — sometimes, people line up for hours to get a taste.
CUSTOMER "My friend told us that this Sichuan pepper gelato is pretty popular and we came here to try it out. While it is on the pricy side, I'd like to give it a try."
CUSTOMER "I don't eat a lot of ice cream. But when I see interesting flavors, I'm interested in trying them."
The Sichuan pepper gelato is inspired by local cuisine. The spicy flavor from peppercorn makes Sichuan cuisine stand out, gaining global recognition. To offer such an ice cream flavor may sound odd, but it helps more people learn about gelato.
WANG TIANTAI MANAGER, MLAB GELATO "We offer unique flavors inspired by regional characteristics to catch people's attention. It is important for us that people start to know about gelato through these special flavors."
XU XINCHEN CHENGDU "I do taste Sichuan pepper — quite a kick of flavor. In addition to those flavors inspired by local specialties, other ice cream makers are also drawing inspiration from combining popular food and drinks with ice cream hoping to win over the entire nation."
It is not the first time boozy ice cream has been offered by Pree — an ice cream chain with shops scattered across China. This summer, Pree partnered with a two-century-old German wine maker to offer a product mixing ice cream with German riesling. It is said that riesling's aroma and sparkle go really well with ice-cream and the new mix aims to impress Chinese consumers. Behind all these efforts is China's rising consumption of ice cream.
MA CHAO STORE MANAGER, PREE CHENGDU "In summer, ice cream is a must, especially in Chengdu, where summer days can get really hot. Yet, the ice cream industry in China is still just starting, and it could continue to be a hot business in the future."
Pree is also developing products to attract consumers on cooler days — such as mixing bacon with ice cream. China is now one of the world's largest markets for ice cream. Data suggest that over 10 billion US dollars worth of ice cream is consumed by China each year.
That's mainly driven by the nation's huge population, which means individual consumption of ice cream is still relatively small — only less than a quarter what an average American consumes in a year. The amount, however, has been growing at a rate around 50 percent in recent years — much higher than the less than 10 percent rates seen in western markets. Xu Xinchen, CGTN, Chengdu.