THE world’s second largest ice cream manufacturing plant has enjoyed exceptionally strong sales growth this year.

Froneri UK’s Leeming Bar site experienced some record breaking weeks – more than 6,000 pallets left the site during the first two weeks of May alone.

The company has reported exceptional growth for its branded and own label ice cream and lolly products – the value of sales increased by 16.3 per cent compared with an overall market increase of 13.6 per cent.

The firm – which produces the Nestlé and Cadbury brands and owns Kelly’s of Cornwall – reports Nestlé sales growing by more than 32 per cent, Cadbury’s by more than 33 per cent and Kelly’s by more than 17 per cent.

Charlotte Hambling, Froneri’s UK head of marketing, said: “Sales remained buoyant throughout autumn and winter last year, so we started the 2017 peak selling season in a strong position. Revenues in the first half of this year were 22 per cent up on 2016 with volumes showing a 15 per cent increase.

“Lollies, in particular, are showing strong growth due in part to the warmer weather in the spring and early summer and because they are seen as an enjoyable and permissible treat for the family.”

The process of finding successful new products for 2018 is well-advanced. It began in January when Catherine Ford, NPD brand technologist, and her team were given product briefs.

She said: “We then started work on formulating recipes and conducting taste panels to help select the best recipes before proceeding to production trials.

“As we hold the licence to manufacture both Nestlé and Cadbury products in the UK, as well as in many other countries, new recipes for these brands have to be signed-off by the licence owners too.”

She also played a key role in developing one of Froneri’s best selling new products this year – a special limited edition version of the iconic ‘fab’ lolly to celebrate its 50th birthday.

“I initially sketched out some ideas and recipes for the 50th birthday limited edition including a sponge cake flavoured lolly,” she said.

“I knew this would be technically very difficult to manufacture but when it was the clear winner in research panels, we had to rise to the challenge.

“Working with suppliers to develop the correct ‘icing’ coating for the application was complex as this had to have the right characteristics to allow the well-known sprinkles to adhere to it. The coating then needed to dry quickly, ready for the next process which is product wrapping.”

The product was a huge hit with consumers and sale values rose nearly 50 per cent. The 50th anniversary limited edition was the most successful lolly launch of the year, already generating sales worth £1.2 million.

Catherine was also involved in the development of Rowntrees Froots circular lollies which has so far added £1.1 million in sales to the Rowntrees brand.

Overall, Froneri’s Rowntrees branded lollies have increased sales by 48 per cent.

The ‘fab’ and Rowntrees Fruit Pastilles products are among those produced at Leeming Bar where 22 production lines make 250 million litres of ice cream a year, and employ more than 800 at peak production times.

The site also helps develop new products for the Cadbury ice cream brand in Egypt, South Africa, Russia, the Philippines, Argentina and the UK.