U.S. Ice Cream Sales Soar Along with Temperatures

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK — Sizzling summer temperatures across the United States have sent flocks of consumers to their local ice cream parlors, driving up sales of frozen treats from sunny California to the muggy East Coast.

Ice cream shop chains like Baskin-Robbins, Cold Stone Creamery, Carvel, Ben & Jerry’s and Haagen-Dazs said sales have soared in recent weeks, along with temperatures across the country.

“July has been a great month for (the franchisees),” said Carvel spokeswoman Jennifer McLaughlin. “The warm weather is definitely helping them out.”

She could not provide specific sales figures.

FOCUS Brands Inc. unit Carvel operates 540 stores, mostly in the U.S. Northeast, where highs have hovered in the upper-80 or 90 degrees Fahrenheit in recent weeks.

In other parts of the country, too, sales have spiked at bigger chains like Baskin-Robbins, which is owned by France’s Pernod Ricard SA, one of the world’s largest liquor companies.

“The warm weather has spread a real uniform swath just about everywhere, so we’re seeing really steady growth,” said Baskin-Robbins brand officer Ken Kimmel. The chain operates 2,500 stores across the country, though its biggest presence is on the West Coast.

Kimmel declined to give specific sales figures.

Haagen-Dazs ice cream sales are up 11 percent this summer at the company’s retail stores and in U.S. supermarkets, thanks to its new low-fat product line, the company said. Haagen-Dazs is owned by Dreyer’s .

Ben & Jerry’s, a unit of Unilever that has about 250 franchises nationwide, is enjoying good sales as well.

“We’re getting good feedback from our franchisees this summer compared to 2004 when the weather was so lousy,” said spokesman Sean Greenwood. “The first 100 days of summer are critical and we estimate about 40 percent of our sales happen during those busy hot days.”

Greenwood was unable to provide specific sales figures.

Cold Stone Creamery, a 1,100-store privately held chain based in Scottsdale, Arizona, said sales are up 32 percent so far this summer. The company is projecting sales of $450 million in 2005, up from $285 million last year.

This summer’s increase comes despite a recent hiccup in which Cold Stone was forced to pull its cake batter ice cream from stores due to concerns it was associated with salmonella outbreaks in four states.

“Cold Stone Creamery continues to pull market share and flourish,” spokesman Kevin Donnellan said.

Sales at independent ice cream shops are also booming, according to the National Ice Cream Retailers Association, a trade group based in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.

“It’s been very quiet which means the stores are busy,” said Lynda Utterback, the group’s executive director. “I can always tell which part of the country is raining because the stores call asking for information and products — but no one has been calling.”

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