Unilever, one of the top 500 global companies, is planning to build a new ice cream factory. This factory is expected to be an automatic and intelligent ice cream factory with a flexible manufacturing system. To achieve this, Unilever will invest 100 million euros for the establishment of a production base in Taicang, China. The production base will become a major food production base of Unilever China. The first phase of the ice cream factory program is expected to finish in the beginning of 2022 and begin operation accordingly.
This investment is going to be the biggest adjustment for Unilever in the ice cream industry in more than 20 years. In 1996, Wall’s, an ice cream brand under Unilever, invested and built a project for achieving an annual capacity of 42,000 tonnes of ice cream production in Taicang. After that, Unilever underwent several upgrades, including equipment renovation and capacity expansion, for the original factory in 2003 and 2013, so as to further enhance the capacity of ice cream production.
Wall’s ice cream expected to surge in both production and consumption in China
The president of Unilever in the North Asian district announced: “We combine the productive power of world-famous ice cream with China’s digital intelligent technology. The automatic and intelligent ice cream factory that we build will become the first one in the world to have a flexible manufacturing system. (…) By 2039, all of our products, from raw material procurement to our marketing process, will achieve the goal of releasing zero emissions, which is also the future direction of the food production base in Taicang.“
The vice president of Unilever in the North Asian district indicated that the sales volume of Wall’s ice cream shows a double digit increase every year in China, and food has been a focus in the Chinese market. Furthermore, the sales volume of Cornetto ice cream has already reached RMB one billion, while the sales volume of Magnum ice cream will also reach RMB one billion this year.
Unilever restarts production after COVID-19，begins 24 hour production
The vice president of Unilever in the North Asian district also said that the first half of a year is usually the peak of production and sales for ice cream companies. However, during the time of COVID-19, the ice cream factory located in Taicang was closed, which overlapped with the spring festival in China. The ice cream factory resumed business on March 10. In order to make up for the working time that has been lost, the factory continued to produce ice cream 24 hours per day. In addition, Unilever provided training classes for workers in the local hotels and restaurants as well as packaging suppliers from Shanghai so that they could help to increase ice cream production.
“China is the first country in the world where Unilever resumed work and production. The focus of Unilever’s second quarter is sustainable growth, and the project of building an unmanned ice cream factory will be a great encouragement for everyone in the world,” the president of Unilever in the North Asian district said. “Unilever is always optimistic about the prospects of its business development in China. In the future, Unilever will continue to increase its investment in the country. In the coming ten years, the Chinese market will take up a large percentage of our business. We are confident in Chinese consumers and have faith in the development of our business.”
For more information on China’s ice cream market, please check our Dairy Products China News.