Do the words "lactose intolerant" mean anything to Unilever and Nestlé?
A Worldly Treat: Ice Cream Around the Globe
By Mark Scott and Cassidy Flanagan
No longer made up of just quaint local parlors, this highly profitable global business is dominated by two European companies: Unilever and Nestlé
Things aren't what they seem in the global ice cream business. Formerly independent brands, such as Ben & Jerry's, Dreyer's, Häagen-Dazs, and Breyers, have been gobbled up by European food giants Unilever and Nestlé to create two rival ice cream behemoths. Now, the companies are fighting for supremacy in an industry that could be worth $65 billion by 2010. Both are expanding into the top-end luxury sector and fast-growing Asia Pacific region. And both have the financial firepower to take on the competition. But it's anyone's guess which will win the global ice cream wars.
The Chinese ice cream market is booming. The current industry leader is the Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group, which is also the only dairy sponsor of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Its most popular products are "sticky" ice creams: corn-flavored treats, such as the one pictured here, wrapped in a package shaped like an ear of corn. Yum! Foreign brands have targeted China as a key growth market, although Yili, which has a 17% market share, won't give up its top spot without a fight.