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Canada's Dickie Dee Ice Cream products poised to expand presence in USA market.

Canada's Dickie Dee Ice Cream Products Poised to Expand Presence in USA Market

Canada's leading independent distributor and seller of single stick ice cream products is poised on two fronts to expand its presence south of the border. Dickie Dee Ice Cream Ltd. has signed a contract with Jackson Ice Cream to market Dickie Dee's six-item range of Space Fleet novelties throughout the USA starting in August.

To properly merchandise the line, the company is also looking to boost sales of its bubbletop display cabinets. Equipped with fluorescent signage, the compact freezers are designed to spur impulse sales.

Earl Barish is the man to watch during this period of expansion. The Dickie Dee president has turned a small fleet of Winnipeg ice cream vendors into a national concern which generated over $12 million in volume last year. That's some wheeling for a man who got his start selling frozen confections as a teenager on one of those bikes back in 1957. After a year of pedaling and peddling, he persuaded his father to buy the business. "We figured if we could sell ice cream in Winnepeg, we could sell it elsewhere as well."

Pretty good figuring. By 1968 a Toronto branch was opened and the Dickie Dee bicycle boy became a well-known sight all across Canada.

"We have a monopoly on ice cream sales in many parks nationwide, as well as at special events such as exhibitions and Royal visits," Barish told Quick Frozen Foods International.

But not all efforts have met with instant success. A thrust into the USA during the early 1980s fell short. "We found that, from Canada, we weren't able to run in the midwestern states the type of hands-on operation that was required," the president said.

As the Canadian ice cream market is seasonal, Barish is always looking for ways to level out business throughout the year "Winters aren't so much a problem for us as a supplier," he said. "The problem is the turnover among distributors."

With the trend toward gourmet ice cream treats, the Richard D's ice cream bar was developed five years ago. Similar in appearance to the American Dove and Haagen-Dazs bars, the popularity of Richard D's has been "phenomenal," according to Barish.

But to sell well in crowded retail stores customers have to see them. So the bubble cabinet was developed to give the product line high visibility. In addition to highlighting the Richard D's label, other brands are showcased in the freezer units. Among them are Elan Foods' yogurt bars (for which Dickie Dee is the Canadian distributor) and the Space Fleet lineup of novelties which range from plain fudge bars to banana and fudge ice cream dipped in chocolate.

The bubble cabinet's compactness has brought it into non-traditional ice cream markets. For example, 500 have been installed in ESSO convenience stores and another 150 in Cineplex theatre lobbies. Others have been placed in airports, video shops, hardware and department stores. Barish said that 3,000 cabinets have been distributed across Canada, with a deal about to be signed to ship 600 more to a convenience store chain.

Dickie Dee is currently negotiating with a couple of American dairies to produce its product line for the USA market. At the same time, the company would also like to widen its role as a Canadian distributor of various American frozen products.

"I expect that the quota on ice cream coming into Canada from the USA will fall soon in the spirit of the Free Trade Agreement between our countries," Barish told QFFI. American companies may be looking for distributors to facilitate the movement of their products into Canada. We have operations including warehouses, trucks, walkin freezers and support staff in all major western cities, and we will be setting up in eastern Canada as well."

The president, however, is not limiting his company's export focus to just the USA market. Leads generated from participation in a recent Japanese trade show are being followed up. As well, the Richard D's bar is being tested in supermarkets in Singapore and Malaysia.

PHOTO : The Canadian-made Richard D's bar features vanilla ice cream, maple syrup and a dark chocolate coating.
COPYRIGHT 1991 E.W. Williams Publications, Inc.
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Author:Love, Myron
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Jul 1, 1991
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