If you’re selling ice cream in your forecourt shop then you need to make sure people know about it. That’s the message from Andrea Taylor, trade relations manager at Masterfoods. “Consumers might not expect to find ice cream in a forecourt store so retailers need to use point of sale material to draw people in. And inside the store, ice cream freezers need to be placed in high traffic flow areas so people are queuing against the freezer and can see what’s inside – then they’ll be tempted to buy.”

She says more people are eating ice cream as a snack and they’re also taking bars home with them to eat them there, which is obviously a key sales point for forecourts as often customers are dropping in on their way home.

Although ice cream is a seasonal product – with sales peaking between April and September – Ms Taylor reckons forecourts should stock ice cream all year round: “If a consumer knows their local forecourt sells ice cream and they go in and it’s not on display then they are likely to go elsewhere.”

She says that when it comes to weather, rain is the biggest barrier to sales because when it’s raining people assume it’s cold even if it’s not.

For 2005 Masterfoods has two new ice creams: Mars Midnight and Maltesers White.

Mars Midnight has been available before as a limited edition but was so popular that it’s now launched as a permanent line. Its combination of dark chocolate, vanilla ice cream and soft caramel is bringing new consumers to Mars as it is particularly appealing to women aged 18-30, who are not typical Mars bar eaters.

The ice cream will benefit from Masterfoods’ £16m-worth of support for the total Mars brand but will also receive dedicated support from May to August, which will include radio and outdoor advertising and sampling.

The second new line from Masterfoods – White Maltesers ice cream stick – is also targeted at women, but this time 25-44 year olds. According to AC Nielsen, the original Maltesers ice cream stick was the best-selling ice cream launch ever so understandably Masterfoods has high hopes for the white version. The entire Maltesers range has a new packaging design for 2005 and will be backed by a £14m spend.

Elsewhere there’s plenty going on in the ice cream market. Ever-popular Magnum has a limited edition 5 Senses range. Touch is hazelnut ice cream in milk chocolate with hazelnuts; Aroma is vanilla ice cream in chocolate with coffee beans; Sound is coconut ice cream with a chocolate swirl, in dark chocolate with caramelised sugar inclusions; Taste is vanilla ice cream in chocolate with a caramel ice cream core; and finally, Vision is strawberry ice cream with a strawberry swirl in white chocolate, in a curvy new shape.

Touch and Aroma are available now. Sound and Taste follow in May and June, while Vision and Taste will be in stores from July until September.

The Magnum range will be supported by a £6.5m media campaign.

Cornetto has a new Passion variant comprising ice cream swirled with caramel sauce, with chocolate mousse inside the cone, all topped with fudge chunks. For the more health-conscious, the Solero range has been improved with Solero Exotic containing 4% fat, new Solero Red Fruits with 3% fat, and Solero Orange Fresh with 0% fat.

For kids there is the new Wall’s Big Milk – a milk based vanilla and chocolate flavour ice cream. It contains 70% milk and so is a great source of calcium. And Calippo Shots are being introduced to Walls’ kids’ range to replace Solero Shots. They will be available in a new lemon and strawberry flavour.

In take-home ice cream, the Carte D’Or range has been extended with the launch of Carte D’Or Lavazza, coffee ice cream with chocolate flakes. However the big news from Wall’s in take home is its new range of everyday desserts. There are three flavours: lemon meringue, banoffee pie and chocolate brownie. These are all available in a 1-ltr tub, rrp £1.99, but with a permanent ‘2 for £3’ on-pack offer.

Gaby Vreeken, business director for Wall’s, comments: “We anticipate a strong demand for these products. The innovative packaging, along with exciting new flavours, will bring true innovation to this everyday area of the category. Wall’s desserts will benefit from the £6.5m support behind the everyday Wall’s brand in 2005.”

In all, Wall’s is backing its brands with a £24m investment programme this year.

Mr Vreeken says Wall’s is keen to help forecourt retailers increase their ice cream sales: “Our service package is available to all retailers and has the overall aim of developing an attractive selling space and taking responsibility for the way our brands are sold in-store. We work with retailers by offering a range of support materials and services such as promotional activity, exciting POS, in-store implementation, equipment, availability, and visibility at point of purchase. Our new Maxivision freezer offers the ultimate out of home ice-cream selling solution, with illuminated display on all tiers and huge product storage capacity. Independent tests have shown a 30% incremental sales uplift compared with a conventional freezer.”

The Maxivision is priced at £899 but retailers are given product vouchers worth £300 at rrp when they buy it, which takes the price down to £599. Vreeken reckons this investment will pay for itself through increased sales within six months.

Confectionery brands have made very successful transitions into ice cream. Cadbury Dairy Milk (CDM) celebrates its centenary this year and to celebrate Frederick’s Dairies has come up with a limited edition Cadbury Centenary Triple Choc ice cream stick. This comprises chocolate ice cream swirled with chocolate sauce, covered in real CDM chocolate. Aimed at dedicated CDM fans, it is described as a super premium product and retails at £1.20. It is available until the end of the year.

Richmond Ice Cream offers a range of Nestlé products in ice cream format. Marketing director Kate Needham comments: “In 2004 our strongest performers in the forecourt sector were Rowntrees Fruit Pastil-lolly and Smarties Pop Up which are strong brands and universally recognised. However, we also believe that products such as Yorkie, Toffee Crisp and our new Rolo bar provide an alternative to some of the more established chocolate products. They also appeal to the adult market so we are looking to expand these sales in 2005.”

Finally, Frederick’s Dairies has also had success with bringing the Del Monte juice brand into the freezer cabinet. New for 2005 is the Del Monte Strawberry Fruit Double Ice which is a strawberry ice shell filled with a soft strawberry centre. It has just 63 calories, has less than 2% fat and no artificial additives. Unfortunately it is only available in a four-pack, however impressive multipack sales of Fruitini lollies have led to the launch of an impulse product. This 75ml stick product comes in orange and pineapple flavours and retails at 80p.

Frederick’s Dairies managing director, Frank Frederick, says: “Quality fruit is central to the Del Monte proposition. Our research has shown that many adults are disappointed with the current market offering of ice products as most are made from fruit flavoured ice. Consumers also have concerns about the levels of sugar, flavourings and colours but every one in the Del Monte range addresses these issues. They taste fantastic, are soft textured, have high fruit contents, are less than 90 calories and are virtually fat free.”