OPINION: Fonterra shareholders are starting 2019 with high expectations.
Research from Mintel shows the total market value for ice cream sales in China increased by 90% between 2008 and 2014 to reach US$11.4 billion. The take-home ice cream segment, which Tip Top is targeting, remains a relatively small part of the overall category and has room to grow.
Tip Top will be sold online through Tmall, one of China's leading e-commerce providers, operated by Alibaba Group.
Distribution will be handled by specialist frozen products distributor Zhuhai Ice Technology.
Taking a flexible "trial and learn" approach using e-commerce will help Tip Top test the brand and products and be ready to capture future growth says Kim Ballinger, director Tip Top.
"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." she says.
"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."
Tip Top will initially launch a 2L tub range, and is considering offering novelty sticks and bulk scoop products.
Chinese consumers will be able to order six flavours of Tip Top: 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 says.
Tip Top is New Zealand's number one ice cream brand and available in 23 markets around the world. Tip Top's Hokey Pokey ice cream was the Supreme Award winner at the recent 2016 New Zealand Ice Cream Awards.