Belfast Telegraph

That's a lot of lolly... we stayed cool in July with million ices every week

By Claire McNeilly

It was the hottest July on record with top temperatures hovering around the 30C mark in some places, according to the Met Office.

And, with an average Northern Ireland temperature of 17C for the month, the mercury surpassed its hitherto unbeaten 2006 level of 16.7C.

So, naturally it seems, our appetite for icy treats rose to an all-time high, with some companies reporting astronomical sales and even running out of stock.

Data provided by leading dairy company Dale Farm – famed for such family favourites as Polly Pineapple, Pear Picking Porky and Mr Frostie – shows that during the heatwave we were buying more than a million ice lollies a week.

Indeed, during the scorching weather of the second week alone, our ice lolly intake had increased to a staggering 1.5 million – which means that, statistically, there was one consumed for almost every person in Northern Ireland.

The revival will come as a welcome boost for an under-pressure industry hit by a dismal 2012 as well as a long-term sales decline.

Last year the miserable early summer weather and rising prices meant the volume sold in cones, tubs and stick lollies across the UK was down 11% compared with 2007, at 333 million litres.

Stephen Cameron, commercial director at Dale Farm, which has been producing ice cream and lollies for 50 years, said: "We've had one of our best months ever for sales of Dale Farm ice cream, and this seems to be continuing into August as the temperatures remain high.

"The best sellers this summer, by far, have been our Pear Picking Porky and Polly Pineapple lollies – proving that our 'classics' range is as popular today as ever. However, scoop ice cream and our premium Rapture range have also been selling well this year as consumers treat themselves whilst staying cool."

Not only did July average unusually high temperatures here, but they surged on individual days to some of the highest ever recorded.

On July 20 it reached a peak of 30.1C in Castlederg, not far off the Northern Ireland record of 30.8C which was registered on June 30, 1976, at Knockarevan in Co Fermanagh, and again at Shaw's Bridge in Belfast on July 12, 1983. Europe's biggest ice cream producer, Yorkshire's R&R Ice Cream, which makes own-label ice cream for supermarkets as well as Cadbury and Nestle products, said production at its factories last week had more than doubled from a month before.

"We've had record-breaking sales two weeks in a row," said Mike Fraine, R&R's sales director for the UK and Ireland.

He said the company had taken on between 20% and 25% more staff than last year, and reported a 300% rise in sales.

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