We recently attended the International Association of Ice Cream Distributors & Vendors conference in Las Vegas from November 8-10. This year’s theme, “Change on Purpose,” was befitting the conference’s purpose: to share best practices, solutions, and expertise with others in the ice cream industry. Hundreds of attendees were present, including North American ice cream distributors, major ice cream brands (such as Unilever’s Magnum, Dreyers Haggan Dazs, and Wells Blu Bunny), and upcoming brands such as MyMochi, Eclipse, and Dream Pops.
When we weren’t enjoying the action-packed agenda, we were fortunate to spend time networking with some of the conference’s ice cream distributors and vendors. While chatting with them, we were interested in determining their biggest priorities for the coming year.
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Below, we bring answers straight from the mouths of some of the vendors, brands, manufacturers, and distributors at this year’s conference.
QUESTION: “WHAT ARE YOUR 2023 PRIORITIES?”
Company: MRV Dairy Solutions
Name and Position: Scott Hoff, Business Development Executive Answer: “Securing supply. Lots of lost opportunities in the last two years due to out-of-stock. Those who get the logistics right from manufacturers to retailers will win.”
BRANDS & MANUFACTURERS
Company: Rich’s Ice Cream
Name and Position: Michael Gardner, VP of Business Development and incoming president of the IAICDV
Answer: “We all need to focus on growing the category. I don’t know if everyone realizes how small our category is for most retailers. The bigger we are, the more pertinent we become. At Rich’s, we will focus on expanding new channels, building DSD fundamentals, and leveraging technology.”
Company: Dream Pops Name and Position: David Greenfeld, Founder & CEO Answer: “2023 is all about building a business with sound fundamentals: healthy margins, high fill rates, and strong product quality. This is crucial as the category is insanely competitive. It will be mission critical to temper expectations on distribution and focus on sustainable growth.”
Company: The Mochi Ice Cream Company Name and Position: Jim Hushon, My/Mochi Sales Director Answer: “More innovation – it’s what the customers are looking for. We recently launched five new flavors. This capacity to innovate is really the key to our success.”
Company: Tropicale Foods
Name and Position: John Summerville, VP of Sales
Answer: “People. With the right people, you can do much more. It’s about doing the recruiting right and recognizing in your management practices that people have different motivations. The most important thing in ice cream is people, not ice cream!”
Company: New England Ice Cream,
Name and Position: Bruce Ginsberg, Founder / CEO
Answer: “Despite challenges related to economic uncertainties and the likelihood of major industry shifts, our team remains laser focused on continued service excellence for existing and new customers, unit growth for our brands, and bottom-line growth for New England Ice Cream Corp. NEICC will continue investing in people, plant, equipment, and systems consistent with its established long-term objectives.”
Company: GlacierPoint Enterprises
Name and Position: John Corrao, Executive Vice President Sales & Field Operations
Answer: "Clarity of our message to our internal team. After the last two or three years filled with supply chain disruptions, 2023 is all about enhancing our customer service and maximizing ice cream sales on the street.”
Name and Position: Joe Foderaro, Joe & Ross: Sales Consultant/Ridgeland Partners: Proprietor
Answer: “There is so much going on in the frozen category. The main challenge will be to stay focused, clarify the goals, and be present to do more and better.”
Name and Position: Allan Barish, President
Answer: “To get back to pre-pandemic levels now that things are back to normal. To do so, we will focus on recruiting and retaining good people, building customer relationships, and exceeding their expectations.”
OUR KEY TAKEAWAYS FOR A SUCCESSFUL 2023
No matter whether they were a vendor, brand, manufacturer, or distributor, our interviews with various ice cream leaders had three commonalities regarding 2023 priorities:
Building a Solid Foundation: In today's turbulent economic times, businesses with sound foundations are more likely to succeed. Companies must develop a strategy that protects product quality, ensures product availability, and fosters customer relationships while securing healthy margins.
Investing in Growth: Interestingly enough, besides focusing on building a solid foundation, every interviewee also had an innovation strategy that best fit their core competencies. For example, companies with great R&D are focusing more on product innovation, whereas those with great distribution networks are considering expansion. The key takeaway? Companies should partner their investment to their competitive advantage for maximum success.
People, People, People: No matter if you’re a large corporation or a small business, your team will help make success possible. Companies need to think outside the box, use the latest communication methods, and develop collaborative partnerships with community stakeholders when attracting and retaining the best employees.
As for INNODELICE, 2023 offers a great opportunity for us to:
Offer more solutions to challenges caused by the current economic crisis
Facilitate innovation in the industry with less time-to-market, risk, and expense
Continue to foster successful connections between manufacturers, brands, importers, distributors, and suppliers
What about you? What are your 2023 winning strategies?
Founded by former executives in the Ice Cream industry, INNODELICE aims to create a worldwide ecosystem of solutions within the frozen dessert industry. Thanks to the relationships fostered by INNODELICE, manufacturers, brands, importers, distributors and suppliers can discover, buy and sell solutions to GROW their business. These solutions include co-manufactured and branded products as well as innovative and competitive ingredients, packaging and services. Our collaboration model generates lower costs and fewer risks for our participating partners while optimising their time to market. To learn more about INNODELICE, contact Andrea MONTREUIL (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit www.innodelice.com.