Christina Veal and Niki Jenman Joint MD’s, New Forest Ice Cream

Sisters Christina Veal and Niki Jenman are Joint Managing Directors at New Forest Ice Cream, which is winning a growing share of premium ice cream and sorbet sales in retail and foodservice. They spoke to Wholesale Manager.

When did you become joint MD’s?

We officially took over when Mum and Dad retired in 2015, but we’ve worked in the business since 1992 and had the difficult job of being chief tasters at a very young age!

How do you work together?

Our family work together as an amazing team – our cousin Dave is Production Director – and we all share the same passion and ethos.

What products are in your portfolio? Do you cover take home and impulse? What about foodservice?

We operate nationally, providing pubs, restaurants, hotels, cafés, kiosks, wholesalers, retailers and operators with a standout range of ice creams, made in our state-of-the-art, sustainable site in the New Forest. We offer over 50 different flavours of premium ice cream and sorbet, alongside wrapped impulse products, and a growing number of pre-packed desserts, toppings, and accessories.

Our foodservice range has been developed with chefs in mind. We continue to increase our retail presence and our premium 500ml range introduced last year is becoming increasingly popular. This features a new look and design and some brand new flavours, along with some of our most popular and much-loved creations.

How are you doing in each of these sectors?

Our roots are in foodservice, which continues to grow organically. Although our sales reps actively pursue business, we get many new customers by word of mouth and chefs moving in the industry. We debuted in impulse in the mid ‘90s with our Supremes range, which proved so popular as a quality alternative to the major brands that we add new products each year. Last year we entered take home with a range of premium 500ml tubs, an area where we anticipate we can generate substantial increases.

How are you responding to the trends for varying dietary requirements and lighter options?

In response to the recent government and media driven awareness of healthy eating, we have developed recipes that use less sugar while remaining creamy and satisfying. All our products are nut free and only those incorporating biscuit pieces are not gluten free. Everything is suitable for vegetarians but we’re developing some vegan ice creams for launch next year.

How would you sum up the New Forest proposition? What’s your point of difference, compared to larger brands?

Quality is at the heart of everything we do. As a family brand, quality and provenance are our foremost priorities and we source local ingredients wherever we can. We are committed to using only the finest ingredients, including fresh double cream and whole milk. We make sure we support our customers and provide the same flawless service they have received for over 35 years.

Staying ahead of the trends and flavour innovation also sets us apart. We adore discovering new flavour combinations. The ice cream market is constantly moving and creativity is key! You need the quality core flavours, but many customers are looking for the next big thing and are attracted to flavours with a point of difference. Gin & Pink Grapefruit sorbet, Peach Melba Clotted Cream and Rhubarb & Ginger ice cream are just some of our unique flavours.

You won a Gold Star in the Great Taste Awards 2018. What was that for? Have you won any other awards?

We have scooped various Great Taste Awards over the years and received a Gold Star for our new Iced Latte ice cream in 2018. We were also Highly Commended in the Great British Food Awards for our Salted Caramel ice cream, judged by Michelin star chef, Simon Rogan. Both are from our 500ml range so it’s great to see them recognised with such awards!

What are your marketing plans for this year and next year?

We are launching a new website in 2019 and have other exciting plans.

How are you helping your wholesale customers grow their business?

We not only supply our ice cream nationwide through a network of wholesalers, but also source branded equipment including freezers and insulated hawking bags, to suit each site. Our in-house design service provides a range of bespoke POS material free of charge to customers.

Which of your products are particularly strong sellers at Christmas? How can wholesalers maximise sales of New Forest Ice Cream products in the run up to Christmas?

We love nothing more than combining two of our favourite things; Christmas and ice cream! Every year we introduce new festive flavours. We always recommend rotating flavours to cater appropriately for different seasons and maintain customer interest. Our current collection of celebratory Christmas flavours includes Mince Pie Ice Cream, Cinnamon Ice Cream, Whisky & Orange Ice Cream, Gin & Pink Grapefruit Sorbet and a dazzling Bucks Fizz Sorbet.

Where do you see New Forest Ice Cream in five years’ time?

New Forest has grown steadily over the last 35 years and it is important to maintain our family culture and offer consistent, high quality products matched with fantastic, reliable service. There is plenty of scope to continue growing through an extended distribution network and further development of unique products.