A small UK food ice cream equipment supplier, Unice, has cornered the Japanese ice cream dispensing with its high tech system.
The rise to far-Eastern dominance began in 1996 when a large Japanese distribution company saw the company's One-Shot soft serve ice cream system demonstrated at the International Food Exhibition Show in London.
The manufacturers and designers of the machinery, UK-based Unice Internationl, built a machine for the distribution company's customer, 7-Eleven and by 1998 the company had installed more than 4,000 machines in stores throughout Japan.
In Japan as a whole, there are currently in excess of 20,000 One-Shot dispensers with another 1,000 machines being installed across the country every month, making it the number one in its category in Japan.
The One-Shot system consists of an 'intelligent' container which is pre-packed and sealed at the dairy and a dispenser which forces the ice cream through an extrusion hole in the bottom of the container.
Shane McGill, managing director Unice International, said: "One-Shot has taken Japan by storm! It has happened so quickly that there is no room for any significant competition."
He follows on to recall the valuable help they received from the British Embassy in Tokyo: "They were fantastic!" he said, "We emailed a copy of the design to the Embassy, they printed it out in colour, sent it by courier to Magna [The Japanese supplier] who then made their presentation to 7-Eleven. On acceptance by Magna we built two test machines and delivered them within two weeks."
McGill went on to explain how Japan has always been at the leading edge of technology and keen to adopt new techniques. This meant that once 7-Eleven put its weight behind the system, other major Japanese corporations followed suit, endorsing its market leading. This is proved by the fact that the major ice cream producer in Japan, Meiraku Dairy, has formed a separate One-Shot sales division and. Now Meiraku is installing machines on a lease or rental basis and even in some cases, free of charge, in any type of location as long as they buy the Meiraku product.
Keeping abreast of technology was not the only reason for choosing the system. In Japan space is at a premium and the compact design of the One-Shot dispenser coupled with the fact that there is no requirement for sanitising equipment, makes it better suited to the market conditionMcGill said: "This fanatical obsession with cleanliness has added to One-Shot's success, and this is where the system really scores."
At the heart of the One-Shot system is its 'intelligent' container. This single portion container is manufactured from fully recyclable polyethylene and 'nested' into boxes suitable for running on high speed filling machines and delivered direct to the dairy.
The containers consist of a cup and a lid. The cup has an extrusion hole located at the bottom covered by a pull-off tab. When the containers are filled at the dairy, pressure is applied to the centre of the lid which seals it and creates a vacuum allowing for product expansion during freezing.
This means that the container is hygienically sealed and product integrity maintained until it is served.
According to Unice, the machine has risen to success in Japan because of its ease of use, its simplicity to keep clean and the large selection of flavours and serving options that the equipment can cater for. The simplicity of the machines construction means that there is no need to strip it down, sanitise, lubricate, reassemble and possibly lose components.
For further information contact Unice International .