Devon firm’s race against the clock to sell ice cream in the desert

Kye Parkin
Communications Executive | Business West
27th August 2019

When the mercury rises, so too does our appetite for ice cream. If your waistline is bulging as a result of the latest heatwave, then spare a thought for the people of Bahrain.

In a country where the temperature rarely dips below 30 degrees, the temptation to indulge in a bit of tutti frutti or raspberry ripple is ever-present. Thankfully, for the increasingly health-conscious Bahraini public, Devon-based Granny Gothards have a delicious guilt-free solution to satisfy their cravings.

Specialising in all natural, hand churned ice creams and sorbets, Granny Gothards are well known for their wonderfully unique flavours, such as saffron and cardamom and beetroot and horseradish, but it is their latest innovation PROice that won them a £200,000 a year contract in the Middle East.

Turning everything that we know to be true about ice cream on its head – PROice is a high-protein, low-fat and low-sugar ice cream exclusively stocked at Alosra stores in Bahrain. Alosra is Arabic for ‘the family’, making the Granny Gothards brand a fittingly familial and natural choice for the upmarket grocery chain.

The lucrative deal was reached following a trade delegation to the Kingdom of Bahrain as part of The Great British Food Programme, which is led by Business West and supported by the Department for International Trade.

Granny Gothards’ owner Amanda Stansfield was one of 20 UK food and drink producers that flew out to Bahrain to tempt supermarket buyers with their delicious products earlier this year. The trip was ultimately a success but it posed a bit of a challenge in terms of logistics, given that its approximately 3,500 miles from the Granny Gothards farm in Devon to Manama - the capital of Bahrain.

So how did Granny Gothards’ ices fare on their way to the desert? How on earth did they not melt in such extreme temperatures? The answer: dry ice and an owner willing to hot foot it across the globe. 

The surface temperature of dry ice is -78.5c, by way of comparison the ice cream in our freezer chills at around -18c. This makes dry ice perfect for transporting frozen goods such as ice cream in ambient temperatures. There is, however, a slight catch. Dry ice only lasts for around 18 hours before it evaporates.

This would not be such a concern if you could take the 7-hour flight from an airport in Devon directly to Bahrain, but at present this isn’t possible. So, in addition to time spent in the air, the ice creams also had to endure ground transportation in the UK before boarding.

The journey from Cullompton in Devon to London Heathrow Airport takes approximately 4 hours. Assuming that you reach the airport at least 2 hours before departure time, this leaves you with 12 hours remaining of an 18-hour window before the ice cream melts. Once on-board, the ice creams have a 7-hour flight ahead of them. Factor in immigration and customs checks at Bahrain International Airport, and this leaves a 3-hour margin of error to account for any delays. 

Even a slight delay embarking or disembarking the aircraft would’ve meant ice scream rather than ice cream for Granny Gothards, but luckily the journey went off without a hitch and the all-natural ices arrived in Bahrain in the nick (or should that be lick?) of time.

Having raced against the clock to get her ice creams in front of Bahraini buyers, Amanda Stansfield speaks about her delight of securing a deal:

"Our new orders are an exciting step in our export journey. Trading with Middle Eastern countries like Bahrain has some real benefits, as the year-round warm and dry climate means we can maintain sales outside of the UK’s peak summer season.

"The warm climate also means the ice cream market is flooded in Bahrain, which is why Alosra was keen to find something different to stock in its store. They loved that we had a very clean list of ingredients and, as there’s a growing focus on fitness in the Middle East, the high-protein nature of our PROice range was also a big draw.

"It’s likely we wouldn’t have made it to Bahrain if it wasn’t for support from the Great British Food Programme team at Business West and the local Department for International Trade team. Between them they have helped us with everything from addressing cultural differences to meeting new partners, and I’d encourage others to make the most of the support at hand. If we can export, you can too."

The food and drink industry is the biggest manufacturing sector in the UK, employing over 450,000 people. Many of the UK’s leading food and drink manufacturers are based in the South West of England, where they export more than £800m worth of produce a year.

Before being invited on the trade visit, each of the 20 South West food and drink companies were pre-selected as favourites by representatives from the Bahraini supermarkets and hotels who had viewed the Great British Food Directory.

Hilary Charman, International Trade Adviser at Business West said:

“This pre-selection and vetting process is unique to the Great British Food Programme model and has proved successful in increasing the sales prospects for outstanding British food and drink companies such as Granny Gothards in various overseas markets. In the last 24 months we have helped over 50 companies to secure £219,602,517 worth of export wins.”

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