Fonterra, the New Zealand dairy giant, is trialling an e-commerce launch of its Tip Top ice cream in China. 

The company said Tip Top ice cream will be sold online through the Alibaba-owned Tmall e-commerce site. Distribution will be handled by frozen food distributor Zhuhai Ice Technology.

Kim Ballinger, Tip Top director, said taking a flexible approach to the e-commerce roll out will help Fonterra prepare the brand to “capture future growth”. 

“China is Fonterra’s biggest market and this trial is a small way we can add to our offering there. There will be a lot to learn from this trial programme.  We know the brand, sales platforms and product formats will need to evolve to suit consumers’ changing needs. But it is critical to get into the take-home segment early, get our systems up and running and learn what consumers want so we can quickly capture opportunities as they emerge,” she explained. 

Fonterra will launch a range of two-litre tubs and is considering offering novelty sticks and scoop products. The company is initially offering six flavours: vanilla, chocolate hokey pokey, cookies and cream, neapolitan and strawberry. 

“Our research tells us that Chinese consumers want to know they are buying the exact same product that we eat in New Zealand. The product, packaging and flavours available in China are identical to what we sell in New Zealand which will help us give consumers assurances around quality and authenticity,” Ballinger said.
According to Mintel, value sales of ice cream in China increased by 90% between 2008 and 2014, when the market was worth US$11.4bn. Fonterra said the take-home segment, which it is targeting with Tip Top, remains “relatively small” but “has room to grow”.