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Storing and transporting ice cream, a logistical challenge

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The ice cream and ice cream market is seasonal in nature. Back on the need to set up expert and efficient logistics to respond effectively to the challenges of fluctuating volumes in the sector.
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Ice cream: growth boosted by innovation and the "local" sector

Whether in tubs, sticks, cones or popsicle bars, ice cream is a crowd pleaser, especially in the summer season. The ice cream market has been growing steadily for almost 10 years.   

The sector is particularly driven by product innovation, which represents on average 15% of the market: each year sees the appearance in supermarkets of new formats that are more gourmet (new tastes, new colours), more environmentally friendly (recyclable packaging), organic or healthy (light). 

Alongside manufacturers, smaller players - SMEs in short distribution channels and craft businesses - are increasingly successful with consumers, who also favour online sales. Online sales have seen a 25% increase in traffic over the last five years.

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Transport and storage between -20°C and -25° C, consumption peaks: a demanding industry

To retain all the properties of the ice cream, storage and delivery between -18°C and -25°C is essential. Maintaining the cold chain is indeed the key to preserving the texture and flavours of the product, but also and above all to food safety. Beyond this constraint, applicable to all frozen products, the seasonal nature of ice cream adds to the complexity of logistics management.  

Indeed, the demand for ice cream is highly dependent on the weather. Storage and transport of these foodstuffs can quadruple on fine days, with a peak between May and September. It is obviously not possible, for industrialists as well as for more local players, to ensure a four-fold increase in production in summer, so it is the production of a whole year that supplies the shelves during this period.  

Moreover, consumption basins are correlated with migratory flows. In summer, holiday departures therefore direct consumption towards the coast and more particularly towards the South-East, requiring the adaptation of the associated transport plans.

Entrepôt surgelé STEF

The keys to an efficient seasonality supply chain: anticipation and agility

To ensure the success of their campaigns, it is therefore a real challenge for the players in the sector. The efficiency and reliability of their supply chain, which determines the supply of shelves and the quality of the ice cream, play a major role. 

At STEF, in order to jointly build the best logistics plan with their industrial customers, the teams at STEF are working on the organisation of the system from October onwards, for the following season. In order to organise storage, they rely on the dense real estate network of the STEF network, comprising more than 240 warehouses and platforms across Europe. They adapt to the strong variations in activity, sometimes multiplied by 8 in high season, notably by anticipating the integration and training of employees.  

In Europe, the Group has significant and modular storage capacities with 5,200,000 m3 of negative cold storage. In France alone, our frozen transport network is open at 35,000 retail points and 285 mass points.  Every year, we ensure the storage and transport of more than 430,000 pallets of ice cream to your stores for our customers.

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