The first Costa Rica location of U.S. ice cream brand Dippin’ Dots opened this week at Mall Plaza Premium La Cuesta in Escazú, southwest of San José.
Local corporation Oasis Group acquired franchise rights in the country and currently is importing ice cream from the company’s headquarters in Paducah, Kentucky.
The company hopes to renegotiate its contract to establish a production plant in Costa Rica in two years to expand distribution throughout Central America, Colombia and the Dominican Republic, Oasis Group Associate Director José Badilla Estrada said.
Acquisition of the franchise and the opening of a first retail store represented an initial investment of $1 million, Badilla added.
A second ice cream parlor is scheduled to open next month in Lindora, west of the capital, and the ice cream also is available at 10 AutoMercado supermarkets in the Greater Metropolitan Area.
The company also is offering franchise opportunities to local investors and is in negotiations to open retail stores east of San José and in the provinces of Heredia and Alajuela.
The product consists of tiny, flash-frozen beads of ice cream, yogurt, sherbet and flavored ice. The product was invented in 1988 by microbiologist and entrepreneur Curt Jones and currently is available in more than 30 different flavors, plus seasonal flavors. Costa Rica’s store initially is offering 10 flavors.
The small ice cream beads are prepared through a process of cryogenic freezing using liquid nitrogen at -340 degrees Fahrenheit. Frozen beads are stored in special freezing chambers at a temperature of -22 F to preserve the texture, shape and characteristic flavor.
In Costa Rica, the company offers ice cream in cups, shakes and floats. At supermarkets the ice cream is available in Trepak bags, Badilla said.
Last year, Sub Zero Ice Cream introduced in Costa Rica a method that freezes an ingredient mixture using liquid nitrogen. Their ice cream is prepared on-the-spot instead of being stored in freezers.
Costa Rica’s ice cream market is dominated by the local company Dos Pinos, followed by Helados Díaz and Pops. Dos Pinos leads the market with a share of 84.7 percent, while the remaining 12.3 percent is split between Pops, Díaz, Monteverde and other small local competitors, according to a study by consulting firm Euromonitor, reported last year by El Financiero.