Start a Frozen Custard Business

Ideas

If you are looking to enter the cold dessert business in South Africa you will be going up against large incumbents, ice cream has various multinational brands while the frozen yogurt business is wrapped up by market leader Marcels. There is one frozen dessert item item that is curiously absent in South Africa and that is frozen custard.

What is frozen custard?

No it is not Ultra Mel that has been frozen, according to Wikipedia “Frozen custard is a cold dessert similar to ice cream, but made with eggs in addition to cream and sugar. It is usually kept at a warmer temperature compared to ice cream, and typically has a denser consistency.” Serious Eats also sums it up nicely:

Frozen custard is what happens when you take extra-rich ice cream and leave out all the air. It’s so dense and soft it barely supports its own weight—it’s served in ploops, not scoops—or it’s whizzed up with chunky mix-ins or hot fudge and served as an extra-thick milkshake called a concrete. Ice cream is for people who like dairy. Custard is for dairy fanatics.

According to its history “ice cream vendors found that adding egg yolks to ice cream created a smoother texture and helped the ice cream stay cold longer”

What a frozen dessert thicker and creamier than ice cream not available in SA? Yes it’s true.

While popular in the US, frozen custard is virtually unheard of in South Africa, there might be one or two restaurants that make it but it is not mass produced or commercially available. Does the fact that there is no competition in SA mean this is a sure winner?, no of course not. There are many things popular in the US that have failed in SA or have not taken off in the same way.

Chocolate frozen custard by stu_spivack
Chocolate frozen custard by stu_spivack

The way I see taking a product like this to market is via organic, fresh or Neighbourgoods markets or a stall in a high traffic location like the Watershed in Waterfront, similar to the way bubble tea entered SA. Ideally a place where artisanal products are being sold as frozen custard is often sold as a gourmet frozen dessert. Make a premium frozen custard on a small scale and see the response. From there you can see whether there is any merit to have it mass produced.


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