On the third Sunday of July of every year, the world celebrates a sweet, colourful, smooth, creamy and frozen treat that has long been a source of joy and refreshment for people everywhere. As much as it sounds too magical to be true, it is indeed a real ‘Day’!
World Ice Cream Day is yet another excuse to justify our indulgence in a delightful scoop of ice cream on a summer day - an experience that undoubtedly transcends borders and cultures. And while we would be scratching our heads thinking about which flavour to pick and whether we are in the mood for a cone or a bar, we rarely think of how a desert like ice cream can play a significant role in the economy.
While most people around the world would recognise famous international brands like Häagen-Dazs, Ben & Jerry's or Magnum, on this occasion, we have the pleasure of introducing you to different players in the game making their way onto the spotlight. The EBRD, along with its donors, has been supporting and enabling local ice cream producers to thrive and contribute to their local economies.
As we savour our favourite ice cream flavours, let us embark on a delicious journey to uncover how the EBRD is spreading ice cream joy by enabling brands like Marnik from Armenia, Dara Ice Cream from Egypt and Zahi Glace from Morocco, scoop out their own unique destinations in this industry.
A vision of quality and a tale of teamwork
From Armenia, we introduce you to Marnik, co-founded in 2000 by Grigor Mantashyan, who switched careers from working as a computer programmer to a trade businessman. Grigor joined forces with a group of like-minded friends with a shared love of mathematics and teamwork values, with over 30 years of experience in wholesale trading. This shaped Marnik’s journey towards becoming an established brand that stood out from the competition.
The team’s dedication to make their brand stronger led them to seek assistance from the EBRD. With the support of the European Union, the advisory project played a crucial role in enhancing their brand design and establishing a strong brand identity for their ice cream line, which launched in 2018.
Marnik’s devotion also translates into their continuous innovation efforts towards the product range. Although initially influenced by nostalgia to the Soviet Union’s Plombir ice cream, their ambitions go far beyond tradition. Marnik offers classic vanilla and chocolate flavours while also exploring unique combinations. Currently sourcing ingredients from trusted suppliers in Finland, France, Italy and other countries, the goal is to produce ice cream using natural ingredients only, favouring the use of jams and powdered dried fruits, to create delightful yet authentic experiences for ice cream lovers instead of relying on artificial ingredients and additives.
Recognising their unique place in the local market, Marnik is also committed to supporting the wider community by planning to invest in infrastructure development to ensure smoother production processes and enhance the work environment.
A flavoured personal journey
Dara Ghosheh's childhood love for ice cream takes us to Egypt, where her love for this frozen delight ignited the spark that led to the creation of Dara’s Ice Cream in 2017, making it a remarkable company with a passionate individual as the face of the brand.
Dara's personal story resonated with customers, creating a deep connection between the brand and ice cream lovers across the country, encouraging the company’s desire to provide a complete experience that goes beyond the ordinary.
Besides their focus on high quality, all-natural ingredients and their commitment to authenticity, Dara Ice Cream’s personalised in-store experience offers memorable and joyful moments to its customers in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Recognising this gap in the market set them apart from the competition.
Dara Ice Cream’s dedication to excellence and constant innovation made the assistance provided by the EBRD possible. The project, supported by the EBRD Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Multi-Donor Account (Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Spain, TaiwanBusiness – EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund and the United Kingdom), led them to reassess every aspect of their business, identify processes and technologies to enhance production and pave the way to meeting the increasing demands of their growing customer base compromising neither on quality nor authenticity.
A Passion Transformed into Excellence
Based in Morocco is Zahi Glace, an ice cream company shining in the highly competitive ice cream industry. Founded in 2008 by Zahid Rachid, it is the fruit of its founder’s lifelong passion for ice cream - a passion that fuelled the brand’s journey to excellence.
The founder’s adventure started with him becoming an artisanal ice cream maker, after finishing his management and commerce studies, and discovering his love for ice cream. Guided by his passion and driven by a desire to excel, he perfected his hands-on experience by pursuing professional training in Denmark, Italy, and Germany. As a result of these diverse experiences, he was able to learn more about ice cream making, as well as business management, production processes, and supply chains.
With now over a quarter of a century of experience, what further sets Zahi Glace apart in Morocco's competitive ice cream industry is their commitment to innovation. Starting with their diverse range of products (including lollipops, cones, individual pots and trays), moving to their unique flavours such as watermelon ice cream, and spanning to producing two to three new products every year, we understand the extent to which their innovative spirit, their creativity and dedication can reach in their quest to deliver unforgettable creamy and customised taste experiences.
Zahid did not hesitate to use his personal finances to invest in Zahi Glace. “To sustain in this very competitive industry, it required me a lot of personal financial investment as well as my passion for the ice cream business, my ambition to grow and my teamwork,” he says.
Following Zahi Glace’s organic growth, the founder still maintained his pursuit of continuous improvement, whether it was in advancing recipes, machinery or customer relations, or participating in international expositions and conferences to learn about the new trends of the industry and new technology.
The EBRD is supporting Zahi Glace in its growth strategy, in preparation of launching new products, by establishing their catalogue design, identifying innovative and eco-friendly packaging solutions and preparing their launch communication plan.
Challenges and future scoops
Despite their successful and thriving journeys in the competitive ice cream world, Marnik, Dara Ice Cream and Zahi Glace are definitely still facing challenges. From domestic milk production yet to meet Marnik’s requirements, or Dara’s ambition to scale up operations and expand activities while maintaining the company’s DNA and competitive edge, to Zahi Glace’s continuous exploration of growth opportunities to stay ahead of evolving consumer preferences… The future bodes well for ice cream as long as their determination shines through.
These challenges, however, are not stopping these passionate ice cream makers from constantly innovating and forging their paths in the ever-evolving world of creamy frozen delights.
Celebrating the Joy of Ice Cream
As we bid farewell to Ice Cream Day celebrations, let us take a moment to recognise the cultural and economic significance that ice cream holds. Beyond its delicious flavours and creamy textures, ice cream has woven itself into our cherished moments and memories, becoming a symbol of timeless joy and childhood nostalgia.
By offering expertise, tailored support and financial resources, the EBRD is empowering ice cream producers and enabling them to prosper and succeed while creating a positive economic impact in their local communities, as well as allowing them to create unique experiences for ice cream enthusiasts worldwide.
So here’s to creating more memories: Happy World Ice Cream Day!