Haagen-Dazs to Bassetts to other niche brands, US ice cream makers have
expanded all over the Chinese market in recent years. But now many of
them are worried that the ongoing trade dispute between China and the US
will make their business difficult in China.
Bassetts is a Philadelphia-based ice cream producer, and in May 2008, it
shipped its first order to China. Over the past 10 years, Bassetts
opened four ice cream shops in three Chinese cities. But now the company
is worried that the trade dispute between China and the US might hamper
its business prospects in China.
"We are concerned that the recent tariff increase may have a negative
effect on our sales (in China), but we have not shipped an order since
the increase so we do not know yet what the effect will be. We are
certainly hoping that the ’trade war’ is resolved quickly, and that the
increase in the tariff will be reversed," Michael Strange, president of
Bassetts Ice Cream Co, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
Prior to that, the US had announced it would increase tariffs on $200
billion of Chinese imports.
Ohio-based ice cream brand Pierres was brought into China in 2015 via
Bulubaier Enterprise Management (Dalian) Corp. Christina Lin, manager of
the international trade department at Bulubaier, said that the effect of
the tariff increase has not shown up yet in the company’s business.
But she stressed that the increased tariff, on top of an existing 28
percent import tariff, would cut the company’s profits. "We don’t want
the trade dispute to evolve. We want tariffs to be lower, not higher,"
she told the Global Times Wednesday.
For US ice cream brands, the arrival of the trade dispute is a pity as
their exploration of the Chinese market has been relatively successful
in recent years. Haagen-Dazs, for example, has its shops scattered
around first-tier cities and is becoming a widely known brand among
Pierres is also doing well. It has opened 48 shops in 10 provinces in
China. Sales have been rising since the brand entered China, and retail
revenues of Pierres ice cream reached about 30 million yuan ($4.35
million) by the end of 2017, Lin disclosed.
Strange also said that 2017 "was an excellent year" for sales.
"We are hopeful that 2018 will be even better, but much will depend on
the impact of the recently increased tariffs," he said.
"The overall ice cream market is on the rise in China, with people
eating ice cream in all seasons, and the age range of ice cream
consumers is also widening," said Zhu Danpeng, a food industry analyst
based in Guangzhou, capital of South China’s Guangdong Province, adding
that US brands would try all means to take advantage of these trends.
Su Gan, a Shanghai-based ice cream wholesaler and importer, said that
his company used to import US ice cream brands like Crystal and Ben &
Jerry’s, but now the company is giving up most of the US-related
business and turning to ice cream from countries like South Korea and
According to Su, he mostly fears that the trade dispute, if it worsens
further, might trigger consumer boycotts of US products, which would be
"a great pressure" for intermediate importers, he told the Global Times
A Beijing-based consumer surnamed Huang said that she recently bought a
package of Haagen-Dazs ice cream for about 75 yuan. "It’s already
expensive. If they increase the price further, I will give up the brand
and shift to other choices," she told the Global Times.