Summer 2003 sales were the highest ever, according to the latest data from the Swiss ice cream producers' association, with ice cream consumption between April and September increasing by 18.2 per cent to 41.5 million litres.
As expected, impulse sales were the biggest beneficiaries of the hot weather, with sales increasing by 24.9 per cent during the summer. But heat-stricken consumers were also keen to find means of cooling down at home, contributing to a 17.5 increase in at-home consumption during the same period.
Sales in the horeca (hotel, restaurant, catering) sector were also up, rising 11.7 per cent on the previous year.
Impulse products (cornets, lollies, etc.) accounted for 10.9 million litres, while at-home sales (tubs, mulitpacks, etc.) were 22.8 million litres and horeca sales (ice cream desserts, 4-litre tubs) were 7.7 million litres.
The key now, according to the association, is to maintain this growth through the winter period, not normally a busy time for ice cream producers. The association said that it hoped to maintain consumer interest in its products through continued product innovation.
Winter is a very important period for the Swiss tourism industry, and the ice cream industry will seek to attract new consumers among the many skiers and winter sports enthusiasts flooding into the country over the next few months.
Realistically, maintaining growth at the levels seen this year will be impossible, the organisation said, with only another exceptional summer likely to create such interest in the sector. Sales therefore look set to remain broadly flat in 2004 and beyond.