Northern Ireland has gone ice cream crazy, with the sizzling summer sunshine and soaring temperatures sparking a huge surge in sales of creamy cones and dairy desserts.
As the mercury topped 30C+ on three consecutive days at the end of last week and the temperature yesterday peaking at 25C, ice cream vendors have seen a massive boom in business as parched punters have gone nuts for their products.
Much like temperatures last month, sales of 99s, sliders, screwballs and tubs have also hit an all-time high for many retailers. And they’re licking their lips at the prospect of even more fine weather to come.
Northern’s Ireland’s largest producer, Mauds Ice Cream, says that last week alone they sold a whopping 400,000 cones of their dairy ice cream, making it the busiest week in the company’s history.
A spokesman for Mauds said its factory in Carrickfergus is working “flat out on a nuclear scale” to keep up with demand.
“Last week was the busiest in the company’s 36-year history. The vans have been out on delivery rounds three and four times per day and the ice cream makers have been punching in the hours relentlessly to keep up with demand,” he said.
“Last week alone, hot and bothered consumers got through 400,000 cones of Mauds pure dairy ice cream. There may be a shortage of water, but let’s hope that it won’t extend to milk and cream!”
The company said its award-winning Poor Bear honeycomb flavour was the most popular with customers keen to get their hands on a cooling cone.
Many other retailers have also seen a huge increase in demand for ice cream thanks to the scorching temperatures.
“Last week was one of our busiest ever since we started doing wholesale,” said Arnaldo Morelli, director of Coleraine-based Morelli Ice Cream.
“We sold about 25,000 litres of ice cream last week, so sales are up about 35 to 40% on normal.
“It was a hard winter, but the spring was great. May and June were both good, and with the good weather hopefully that will continue.”
Dale Farm, which produces many of Northern Ireland’s favourite ice cream products and ice lollies, said it has experienced a “record sales increase compared to this time last year”.
“Dale Farm’s ice cream sales have rocketed thanks to June’s summer heatwave. We are delighted to report that ice cream sales figures for last month were up 52% on last year,” said commercial director Nigel Cairns.
“The hot weather and record temperatures have been fantastic news for our business. The huge increase has meant our team has had to work incredibly hard to meet this increased demand and we are taking extra steps to ensure that freezers across the country are stocked up with ice cream as the good weather looks set to continue.”
At The Rinkha in Islandmagee, manager Ross Hawkins said it’s been “one of the busiest” periods he’s ever known in his 17 years with the business. He’s even had to draft in extra staff and put in emergency orders for ingredients as demand for ice cream – particularly his great-grandmother’s 1921 recipe vanilla – has been “non stop”.
“We have been absolutely flat out,” he said. “It’s great to see as it was a very long winter. We had snow right up until Easter Monday, which usually marks the start of the season for us, but we are more than making up for it now.”
Cara Laverty, manager of Cafe Mauds on Belfast’s Lisburn Road, said: “It’s been amazing. We have had to increase the amount of ice cream we order. We normally get two orders of ice cream a week from Mauds, but we have had to increase our orders by 30 to 40 gallons each week for the past couple of weeks as the weather has been so good and so many people want ice cream.”
And it isn’t only ice cream that overheating sun worshipers have been craving, with Spoon Street reporting that sales of frozen yogurt products at its Northern Ireland outlets have also been up during the heatwave.
Meanwhile, a Co Down ice cream business was giving out free ice creams at the weekend – but only to firefighters battling a large gorse fire in the Mourne Mountains.
Graham’s Ice Cream Rathfriland and Newcastle posted details of the kind offer on its Facebook page on Sunday.
Speaking to the News Letter yesterday, Michelle Graham, who runs the business along with her husband Robert, said: “We were just thinking ‘imagine tackling a fire in this heat’ and so we messaged one of the (NIFRS) lads we know to say if any of the crews want to come down there’s a free ice cream waiting for them in the Newcastle or Rathfriland shop.
“It was just a small gesture to say well done.”
Commenting on the recent boom in business brought about by the good weather, Michelle said ice cream sales at their two outlets have been “through the roof” over the past couple of weeks.
“It really has been unprecedented in our time there, and we have been there 23 years. It really is phenomenal – sales are probably up about 50% on normal.”