Selling ice cream is good business in Costa Rica

May 19, 2016
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Be it soft serve, frozen custard or milk shakes, Ticos love their ice cream. Recently, three companies announced their intentions to cash in on all the dessert love by opening or expanding their businesses in the country. Those companies are Sub Zero Ice Cream & Yoghurt, Dairy Queen and POPS. 

Innovative new ice cream shop in town

In coming months, Sub Zero Ice Cream & Yoghurt will open its first location not only in Costa Rica, but also all of Latin America.

The local franchise of the U.S.-based company expects to appeal to the Costa Rican market with its innovative cryogenic technique, consisting of freezing ice cream using liquid nitrogen.

The brand was brought to Costa Rica by Bernard Trade Group, a company owned by expat Timothy Morales. Morales noticed the business idea on an episode of the reality show “Shark Tank.”

Operations Manager for Latin America Humberto Brenes Binns said the company is evaluating the country to determine the location of a first store, which most likely will be at a mall in a metropolitan area.

“Each location usually is managed by five employees, and all ingredients are obtained from local suppliers,” Brenes said.

With 40 flavor and topping combinations, Sub Zero makes its ice cream out of cream, custard, soy milk or rice milk, allowing for low-fat ice cream and options for vegans and people with lactose intolerance. The cryogenic preparation  involves spraying liquid nitrogen into the mixture, which freezes it in a few seconds. This takes the place of storing the mixture in a freezer for several hours, significantly reducing the electricity bill.

The on-the-spot preparation also ensures higher quality, as ice cream is always served fresh. “Plus it’s fun watching the fog that forms when nitrogen is sprayed on the mixture,” Brenes said.

Two ice cream chains opening new stores 

The U.S. soft-serve and fast-food chain Dairy Queen returned to Costa Rica last September and opened its first stores at Mall MultiPlaza in Escazú and in downtown San José.

In January, the company opened a third location at Paseo de las Flores Mall in Heredia, north of the capital. This week the company confirmed it will open three more stores.

Two will be located east of the capital: one in San Pedro in June and another in Curridabat in November. The third store is scheduled to open in downtown Alajuela in October.

POPS, a former longtime Tico brand now owned by Colombian group Nutresa, also has announced expansion plans.

According to a report by the business weekly El Financiero, the popular brand soon will open two ice cream parlors in San José, one on the capital’s Avenida Central and another in the eastern suburb of Los Yoses. A third store is expected to open at Barreal, in Heredia, later this year.

Currently POPS owns some 180 ice cream parlors distributed throughout Central America and in the U.S. state of Florida.

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