Do you want to start an ice cream business but want to go niche and be unique? If YES, here are 50 best ice cream related business ideas & opportunities. Ice cream is a sweetened frozen food typically eaten as a snack or dessert. It is usually made from dairy products, such as milk and cream, and often combined with fruits or other ingredients and flavors.
Everyone relishes ice cream these days that it makes so much sense to start it as a business especially when one lives around hot climates. With a good business plan, you can make your ice cream business successful with more revenue and profit margin.
You can start a medium ice cream business with less than $10,000 investment and run the business on a part-time, seasonal or even full time basis. Good operating locations for an ice cream stand include malls, food courts, beach areas or small storefronts on main streets.
Additionally, an ice cream stand can also be operated on a mobile basis by converting an enclosed trailer or delivery van into an ice cream stand.
The profit potential in the ice cream business is outstanding, and it’s not uncommon for an established ice cream stand to generate profits in excess of $50,000 in a three or four month season. Ice-cream is typically regarded as a seasonal product, with demand peaking during the summer months.
However, in recent years, consumption of ice-cream and other frozen novelties in winter has been on the rise. A mix of factors is responsible for lessening the seasonal impact and contributing to the overall growth of the ice-cream industry such as changing consumer perception, capturing regional variations, diverse consumer segments, favorable retail location, product range and innovation, festivities, marketing and promotions.
Today, over 1.6 billion gallons of ice cream are produced in the united states per year. Revenue in the Ice Cream segment amounts to US$10,058m in 2018. The market is expected to grow annually by 1.2% (CAGR 2018-2022).
While selling ice cream is one of the most popular ice cream businesses around, but that does not mean that it is the only business in the sector. We have outlined other businesses under the ice cream industry that an entrepreneur can start and make decent profits from.
Best Ice Cream Business ideas
In initiating an ice cream store, proper business plan or project plan is required. Ice cream comes in many different qualities, so you need to decide which ones you want to sell. Decide the store space, products, and marketing plan. You can start your ice cream store business in two ways.
One is through buying the franchise of an established brand or by having your own store. If you are starting the business with no experience, then buying a franchise would be the most prudent decision. Calculate your monthly fixed overhead cost and make a financial planning with ROI calculations.
The sale will increase as per the location you choose and which target audience you select. Make sure that your location will be a crowded place such as playgrounds, malls, offices, and markets etc. You equally need to hire experienced people who have either worked with an ice cream company or who know a thing or two about the business.
Start an Ice Cream Vending Cart Business
With ice cream being a crowd favorite during summer and at any large outdoor event, from festivals and concerts to sports games and promotional events, setting-up an ice cream vending cart business is as exciting as it is profitable.
Even with constraints such as seasonal reliance, supermarket competition and street vending legislation, there’s a huge market for ice cream and a vending cart has the potential to make a lot of money pretty much right from the start. It’s no secret that ice cream profit margins are amongst some of the best in the food industry because of the love for the product.
Before you start this business, you have to know that different states have different regulations regarding street vending, so you need to find out the regulations of your state so you do not go contrary to the law. You also need to contact your local authority and find out what kind of licenses you will require for an ice cream vending cart and where you’re allowed to trade as well as the no-go areas.
To start this business, you have to ensure that you are friendly and outgoing, you have a list of all the health, safety and legal requirements specific to this type of business, you know your town/city’s food vending hotspots, and a startup expense purse of about $5,000.
Provided you’re all set on the legal front, you should also start working on your sales approach since, in some areas, mobile trading can be very competitive and competition for the best routes is very strong. Try to find a differentiation angle and to work out a sales pitch that’s different, inviting and unique to your business.
Plan ice cream parties
This delicious frozen treat is a favourite with the youngsters. With the popularity of ice cream, a lot of parents are now opting to throw ice cream parties for their children’s birthdays. If you are a party planner, you can add ice cream parties to the list of events you cater to.
To plan a memorable ice cream party, you have to gather favourite games for the kids, sweets, ice cream themed decorations and centerpieces, party hats etc. No party is complete without letting the kids loose on a piñata. Make this delicious project at your home and fill it with lots of tasty treats, you can drop it over with your clients afterwards.
Note that a well-planned ice cream party would bring you more clients via word of mouth recommendation, so you should endeavor to put your best foot forward in this business so you can set yourself apart from the crowd.
You do not need a lot of capital to start this business, unless you want to stock your own ice cream party paraphernalia. What you need most for the business is experience and expertise, so you should endavour to get these.
Starting an ice cream truck business can be an excellent choice for an entrepreneur launching a career. The financial barriers to entry aren’t overwhelming, and, to some extent, the business allows a fair amount of flexibility regarding hours. Also, an ice cream truck business is highly scalable.
To expand, all you need to do is to purchase a second truck. The major asset you need to start your ice cream truck business is the truck itself. To cut your startup costs, you can purchase a used ice cream truck that has freezers installed.
If you aren’t able to find one that meets your needs, you’ll have to purchase a truck or step van and make the necessary alterations. While running the business, your operating expenses would include gasoline, ice cream supplies and maintenance costs, among many others.
Of course, you need to purchase the ice cream itself on a regular basis, in addition to any toppings, cones, cups or any other supplies you might need.
The good news is that you’ll receive payment immediately for your products, so you’ll have an income that you can use to keep your inventory well stocked. Most ice cream truck businesses can bank on spending around $1,500 to purchase startup inventory.
Other costs you should take note of when starting an ice cream truck business include the permits and licenses necessary to run the business.
These expenses will vary depending on where your ice cream truck is located and the local laws that the government has put in place in that area. Also, consult with your insurance company to receive an insurance quote for your ice cream truck.
Sell ice cream equipment
One of the things to think about when one wants to start an ice cream shop is the equipment needed to start the business. With the rate entrepreneurs start up ice cream shops, ice cream equipment retail business is indeed profitable idea.
There are loads of equipment needed to start up an ice cream business and they include, Ice cream dipping cabinet, Ice cream merchandising case, Drop-in ice cream bar freezer, Reach-in freezer, Walk-in freezer, Refrigerated pie and cake display case, Ice machine, Ice cream dispenser, Soft serve ice cream dispenser, Beverage dispenser, Carbonator, Syrup pumps, Ice cream cone dispenser, Toppings dispensers.
Others are Ice cream dishes, Sundae dishes, Soda glasses, Ice cream scoops, Ice cream spades, Ice cream dipper, Toppings spoons, Disposable ice cream dishes, Single and double booths, Chairs, Tables, Countertops, Bar-style chairs, Children’s high-chairs, Cash registers, Point of sales system, Menu board, Sneeze guards, Insert pans, Ice cream and topping bowl covers and many others.
For each additional product you wish to serve at your shop, such as coffee or baked goods, you are going to need additional equipment.
Keep in mind that this can be very space-consuming for small shops. That is why it is important to decide first on what products you want to sell at your shop, find out what ice cream equipment is needed, and then calculate what your space requirements will be.
Become a restaurant ice cream supplier
Dessert is arguably the most important part of a meal as it’s the last thing diners will remember. That is why restaurants always need a steady supply of ice cream. You can start an ice cream supply business and target restaurants in your area.
To ensure that you have steady clients that you make supplies to on a daily basis, you have to ensure that you source your products from top quality ice cream producers. If customers keep complaining of your ice cream, your clients will cut off your supply.
This business is not so capital intensive to start but its success relies on mega publicity. You have to do the leg work and knock on a lot of doors for you to build your client base. But ensure that you have some capital at hand that you can use to make your first supplies before the profits start rolling in.
Become an ice cream producer
An ice cream producer is on that produces ice cream in large quantities and then sells to distributors, who push the product to retailers, who then sell to the end consumers.
To start this business, you ought to ensure that you have state-of-the-art factory which uses specialized equipment that duplicates a home-churned experience, and your factory should be designed to enhance product quality, maximize food safety and promote sustainability.
Temperatures also play an important role in the product’s freshness. The faster you freeze your ice cream, the smoother it tastes.
Your ice creams would probably travel miles before it gets to retailers or consumers, so you have to ensure that it is preserved at a temperature of minus 30 degrees F (-34.4 C) all through its journey. You have to take care to use the freshest ingredients when producing your ice cream so that you can grab a market share faster.
Becoming a large scale ice cream producer is a very capital intensive business, so you need to have a comfortable credit score that would help you get a loan to finance the business.
Become an ice cream distributor
Most ice cream companies need distributors for their products, if you think you are the right candidate for this, then you can start up an ice cream distribution business. You have to first acquire the necessary equipment that would help you run this business, and one of them is a cold truck and a cold room or storage.
Next, you have to think about where to acquire your products from and who you can distribute to. You can target malls, wholesalers, ice cream parlors, mobile vendors, public and private schools, the food service industry etc.
When you have decided which companies to distribute for, it’s important that you ask for and get to know your representative. Typically a business will have some sort of sales executive assigned to your account. This allows you to reach out whenever you may have some need for their product.
Become an ice cream wholesaler
Ice cream wholesalers are one of the businesses that buy ice cream in bulk to sell to retailers. Wholesale ice cream companies not only supply a tasty treat, but also a heavy dose of happiness.
Buying in bulk can save you money overall. While a retailer would simply double the wholesale cost of ice cream to sell it in a store, buying wholesale ice cream will mean avoiding these extra costs. It makes the most sense for regular consumers to purchase ice cream from retailers, but for companies in need of large quantities, wholesale is the answer.
A lot of business owners think that when you buy wholesale, you’re buying directly from the ice cream company itself. Sometimes this might be the case, but others you may be working through distribution companies. Not every manufacturer will be selling their product directly. It’s their job to create the products, but sometimes some ice cream companies will sell their product directly to their distributors who would then sell to wholesalers.
Bake and sell ice cream cake
An ice cream cake is ice cream in the shape of a cake with layers of sponge cake or cookies crumble in between. A popular form is a three-layer cake, with a layer of ice cream between two layers of cake. In a typical assembly, the cake component is baked in the normal way, cut to shape if necessary, and then frozen.
This is a very delicious treat that can turn into a god business if you have great baking skills. You can start this business on a large scale distributing to malls and restaurants, or on a small scale serving just your neighborhood. To start, you would need a storefront with good leg traffic, baking skills, a mid-sized freezer (if you are running on a small scale), baking ingredients, and maybe a staff or two.
A lot of people have sweet tooth and would never hesitate to indulge in this treat even if they are on a diet, so it would not be cumbersome for you to market your business.
Sell prepackaged ice cream
A lot of big ice cream producers usually prepackage their products before distribution. You too can do this even though your business may not be as big as those of established producers. If you have unique ice cream recipes, you can start producing them from your home kitchen, packaging them and either selling them in your store or shipping them off to local stores and malls around you.
Because you are producing this out of your home kitchen, this business may not be capital intensive, but you have to check out the regulations in your city to ensure that you are allowed to do such business at your home, and you also have to check your home regulations to ensure you that your home is suitable for such business.
While you think about all these, you also have to think about a unique packaging that would help your ice cream stand out from other brands. You can differentiate your product by calling it homemade ice cream.
Start a specialty ice cream business
It is a fact that a lot of people are on different diets, or may have health issues that might prevent them from enjoying traditional ice creams. You can target this market and start making specialty ice cream.
You can make reduced fat ice creams, gluten free ice creams, nut free ice creams etc. and also ensure that you use real fruit and very minimal amounts of food coloring to further make your products special. You can decide to make and sell your products from a store front, prepackage and distribute them, or sell them on ice cream trucks and carts.
Start an ice cream blog
Let’s just say that you are very interested in ice cream but you cannot afford to start an ice cream business just yet, you can still channel all your interests and enthusiasm into creating an ice cream blog.
In your blog, you can write about all the facets of the ice cream business, new businesses that have come up, who is doing well and who is not, newly discovered ice cream flavours etc. You can also you can also set up interviews with famous ice cream producers and use the forum to critique products.
You can make you money by using your blog to advertise new ice cream brands. Note that this can only fly if you have good readership on your blog. You can also earn cash through Google AdSense when you monetize your blog with Google. If you stick around long enough, you might start getting brand ambassadorial endorsements.
Publish ice cream cookbooks
There are indeed various methods of making ice cream that would suit different tastes, nutrition values, health conditions and every pocket. The popular ice cream recipes around are quite few and may not be doing the job effectively, that is why ice cream producers, restaurants, and even individuals are always on the lookout for new ice cream cookbooks.
If you have unique and great tasting ice cream recipes, you can write them all down in a cookbook and produce them for sell. You should be able to market your ice cream cookbook effectively if you intend making good sales out of it.
But if you do not yet have the money to fund the production of a cookbook, you can self-publish the book on free publishing websites online like Amazon. When you have published the book, you can then market it on your blog (if you have one) and your other social media platforms.
Distribute liquid nitrogen
Liquid nitrogen is one of the components that ice cream manufacturers and restaurants frequently use to freeze ice cream. It’s a substance that reaches temperatures as low as -196° C – so cold that it can freeze just about any food. The only problem is that liquid nitrogen is hard to conserve, which is why it needs to be kept in a cryogenic container, which can be costly.
Being that it is costly to preserve this product; restaurants usually buy them in reduced quantities at a time. Just a liter of liquid nitrogen, which costs just a few dollars, is enough to conserve more than 2 kilos of ice cream.
This is where a distributor comes in. You can purchase liquid nitrogen, or make them if you can and sell in smaller quantities to these restaurants. The cost of the preservation equipment would be well worth it once you start getting steady clients.
Manufacture ice cream spoons and plates
Different ice cream shops sell their delicious offerings with different kinds of spoons and plates, and ice cream can never be served without these things. You can start a business where you manufacture ice cream spoons and plates.
Being that a lot of companies have already taken over that market, you have to make your ice cream spoons and plates very unique for you to carve out a market share for yourself. You can make your products more fashionable, make them tailored to particular servings, or make them super durable.
Start producing ice cream cones
Ice cream cones were invented during 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, when large demand forced an ice cream vendor to find help from a nearby waffle vendor. Together they made history.
Being that ice cream is most times served in cones means that cones play a special role in the ice cream industry. If you love the ice cream industry but do not want to start making ice creams, you can start manufacturing ice cream cones.
Being that the traditional ice cream cone has not changed much, you can decide to vary the ingredients so as to vary the taste. This would sure create a niche for you in the market. You can also produce cones that are resistant to moisture and also have superior quality.
When you are done setting up your business, you can start looking out for distributors to help you push your ice cream cones to the store, but if your business is on a small scale, you have to do this by yourself. You need to contact ice cream parlors, trucks and carts and sell them your products.
Start an ice cream consultancy business
Starting a business can be quite tasking, and if care is not taken, you can run your business to the ground without even realizing that you are doing so. Starting an ice cream business can be said to be easy but there are a lot of technicalities in it.
If you are a seasoned business person, you can decide to start a consultancy business where you help ice cream businesses set up so that they can avoid the various pitfalls in the business.