Kiwis selling ice cream in Russia
In a move that shows you can perhaps sell anything to anyone, New Zealand Natural has opened an ice cream outlet on the wintry Russian island of Sakhalin.
The ice cream manufacturer and distributor announced today the outlet on Sakhalin - which lies north of Japan's Hokkaido island on Russia's east coast, on the same longitude as Siberia - was a stepping stone towards expansion towards the more densely populated west coast and cities such as Saint Petersburg and Moscow.
New Zealand Natural managing director Shane Lamont said the Russian market was notoriously difficult to break into, though local reaction towards the icecream had been positive.
"First feedback from Russian customers is they love our ice cream, it is in a quality bracket they have never experienced before, they comment on the exceptional mouth feel," said Lamont.
"Most Russian ice cream is made using cheaper vegetable oils, the creaminess and texture of New Zealand Natural is something far superior," he added.
Sakhalin Island has a population of around 550,000 and its economy is based on oil and gas extraction. In its history it has been a Tsarist prison camp, a Japanese colony and a top secret Soviet military zone.
According to the island's website, the average winter temperature ranges from -6 degrees Celsius in the south to -24 degrees in the north. Summer average temperatures reach a relatively balmy 19 degrees in the south and 10 degrees in the north.
New Zealand Natural is a division of Emerald Foods, owned by business woman Dianne Foreman.
Russia is the twenty first country that New Zealand Natural has done a licensing deal in. It has about 600 branded outlets globally.