Sweden might not spring to mind as the most likely market in which to make money selling ice cream, but two companies at least have looked beyond the country's stereotyped image and seen significant potential there.
Those two companies were Ingman Foods, a Scandinavian dairy group, and Nestlé, the Swiss company which is the world's largest food manufacturer, and last week they announced the creation of a new company, Glasskiosken, designed to make a major impact in the Swedish ice cream market.
Glasskiosken is taking a holistic approach to the ice cream distribution market in Sweden, offering a complete range of brands - both Nestlé's Disney, Lion, Smarties, After Eight, Extreme, Extreme Gold and Maxibon and Ingman's åhus Glass, Tofuline and Kingis - to retail customers throughout the country.
The venture, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to post sales of around SK200 million (€22m).
Glasskiosken will draw on the competences of both partners, according to Christer Losell, head of the newly created company. "The financial strength and development resources of Nestlé, as well as its strong international brands, will combine with the well known local brands of Ahus Glass," Losell said.
"Glasskiosken will challenge and develop the Swedish ice cream market and give increased consumer choice."
For Nestlé, the venture will give it a major foothold in the Swedish market for the first time. "Nestlé has wanted to establish a position on the Swedish ice cream market for some time," said Lars Finér, general manager at Nestlé Nordic.
"We already co-operate with Ingman Foods on the Finnish ice cream market, so this is a natural development for us both. Nestlé is the fast growing number two player on the competitive international ice cream market, and this position will be reinforced by the creation of Glasskiosken."
This is the second major development for Ingman in the Swedish market this year, after its acquisition of the Carlshamn ice cream group there in January from Finland's Raisio group. Carlshamn is now part of Ahus Glas, and its brands will play a major role in the Glasskiosken joint venture.
Nestlé, meanwhile, has been focusing its efforts on building an up-market ice cream business, with the acquisitions of Moevenpick in Switzerland and Dreyers in the US. It still lags some way behind the global market leader Unilever, however, whose ice cream business is worth €5 billion and accounts for 10 per cent of total group sales.