Shanghai’s largest state-owned food manufacturer, the Bright Food Group, has opened its first ice cream parlour in the city.

Bright produces canned food, mineral water and ice cream. The company has invested almost CNY100m (US$12.4m) into the new venture, which aims to compete with well-known international brands such as Dairy Queen and Häagen Dazs.

Häagen Dazs operated 18 outlets in China, while Dairy Queen, which entered the Chinese market last year, announced in November its intention to open 30 new ice cream parlours in 2006. Dairy Queen predicts that China will become its largest market within the next five years.

Under the new subsidiary, Shanghai Iceason Food, the company intends to open between eight and ten stores by the end of the year.

Reports in the Shanghai press suggest that Iceason Food will be targeting the high-end market, with prices comparable to Häagen Dazs and about ten times more expensive than ice cream cones available on the mass market.
Bright Foods is also planning to invest US$8.14m in a joint venture to make canned pork with the Czech Republic’s Gastro Sunwick SRO. This will afford the company a foothold in the international market.