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99 Problems

How did ice-cream sellers cope with the worst July ever summoned by Mother Nature?

One company we talked to has even taken to using Irish rainwater as a key ingredient in its sorbets.

THE OFFICIAL STATS for the month haven’t been sent out yet by Met Éireann – so we’re sticking with our hideously hyperbolic headline for now.

However it pans out once the charts have been pored over and compared to previous years, there’s no question that people have been feeling a slight sense of betrayal about the July weather.

Spare a thought for anyone trying to sell ice-cream, right?

Well, yes and no.

Management at two well-known Irish brands we spoke to seem to be bearing up pretty well, considering. For a number of reasons.

shutterstock_168808757 Shutterstock / AbElena Shutterstock / AbElena / AbElena

Southside chill

Yasmin Kahn of the family-owned Teddy’s Ice-cream says day-to-day business has been steady if “far from spectacular”.

“We had a really good Easter, which was great. Thankfully Irish people eat a lot of ice-cream and they eat a lot of 99s.

“We have customers winter and summer. We have our main outlets in Bray and Dun Laoghaire so at weekends there’s always carriage trade. I need to say a huge thank you to our regulars who keep us going year-round though.

“We also have an outlet at the end of Dun Laoghaire pier – it’s a great venue, brilliant on Sundays. But of course that’s hugely affected if the weather’s in any way bad.”

After a run of warm-but-wet Irish summers, the family sat down several years ago to figure out how to respond to the pattern, and continue growing the business.

They hit on the idea of expanding the corporate and hire side of the company.

If you want to book a Teddy’s van for your company event or wedding, for instance, all it takes is a quick look at the website and a phonecall.

“What we’ve found is our machine hire has really been taking off,” she says.

Throughout the summer months, Teddy’s delivers soft-serve machines – accompanied by ice-cream servers – to companies who want to provide cold treats to their overheating workers.

“We do it for big companies, we do it for small companies. If there’s a hundred people there we could be there for hours.

Suddenly that’s come on hugely in the last few years.


Making lemons

They’ve also been talking about the weather, on the Dingle Peninsula.

It’s always a factor, Kieran Muphy of Murphy’s Ice Cream says.

“It’s Ireland – there could be a great July, but maybe there was snow in April. Or perhaps a bad July and a beautiful September.

Any given day, week, or month might be up or down, but we find most years even out over the whole season.

Tourist numbers are as important as weather, according to Murphy “and tourism is very strong this year”.

The company, which was founded in the Kerry town in 2000, also has outlets in Killarney and Dublin. Its products are stocked in dozens of shops and supermarkets too.

The retail end of the business is “more volatile” according to Murphy, “but that makes it more exciting”.

murph Murphy's Ice Cream Murphy's Ice Cream

“We can’t change the weather, so we focus on what we can do – for example continually trying to increase value to our customers by improving our products and our offering.”

Adopting a ‘when life gives you lemons’ approach, Murphy’s have even started using rainwater (specifically Dingle rainwater) as an ingredient in their sorbets.

“When it rains at least we can collect a key ingredient,” he said.

Despite the poor weather, sales are up compared to 2014.

We fully expect 2015 to be our busiest year yet.

Read: This phallic ice cream is taking over the streets of New York

Read: 14 top Irish ice cream spots to visit this summer

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