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Can the humble ice cream van really stage a comeback?

Authored by Phil Meekin

Phil Meekin

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Approximate read time: 2 minutes

In the world of Brexit, rising inflation and an uncertain economy, many experts and sectors are talking about profit losses, cutting jobs and preparing their business for the next couple of years but amidst all this doom and gloom comes a single ray of light from ice cream van traders. After years of decline, is the ice cream van about to make a welcome comeback?

A number of small, family-run businesses are determined to keep the industry alive by developing old business models to help them thrive in the current market where large retailers rule the roost. Some retailers have even looked towards the export market to make the most out of their business and expand into new markets to meet the demand which is out there.

Ice cream vans first became popular in the 1950’s as refrigeration technology improved to be able to accommodate freezers into a van. However, as technology and transportation has improved, people can buy ice cream cheaply in supermarkets now and the majority of households have a freezer in them so ice cream can now be bought and stored at home.

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According to Ice Cream Alliance, Britain’s ice cream market is currently worth £1bn a year and in 2013, the Guardian estimated that there were 2500 vans in the UK and these falling numbers led to the Sunday People launching a campaign to save the industry.

However, as the number of vans on the street falls, many businesses have moved to catering at festivals, weddings and corporate events. For many businesses in this industry, these events have become a key source of their yearly revenue and they provide a huge opportunity for them.

The competition for these events is high, making it a tough market for newcomers, but the rewards can be plenty for those that work hard in this sector. The new retailers which have joined the sector over the last 10 years have helped to modernise the industry enabling it to grow and develop into something more fitting for today’s digital and changing market.

The new retailers entering the market are not only making use of the demand for their products at festivals and weddings but they are also using social media as a way to promote their products to people outside their local area; this gives their business a bigger scope and audience to hit and hopefully take bookings from.

So while the childhood nostalgia for the ice cream vans continues to grow, many who work in the sector are optimistic about the future. As a British institution, it has stood the test of time so far and with new businesses coming along showcasing an innovative streak, it seems that there is plenty of enthusiasm for the ice cream van to stay and succeed.

References and further reading

Header image – Freepix

Content image – Mirror.co.uk

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