Xi’s taste for treat boosts Russian ice cream

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHU WENQIAN in Bei­jing and TIAN XUEFEI in Harbin

Chen Xiaochen, a 32-yearold res­i­dent of Harbin, bought an ice cream cone on Tues­day, even though day­time tem­per­a­tures dropped to 7 C in the north­east­ern Chi­nese city.

The Russian-made ice cream she bought was only 10 yuan ($1.50), mak­ing it an af­ford­able treat. “I par­tic­u­larly like Russian ice cream, as it has a fla­vor­ful milk taste, strictly se­lected raw ma­te­ri­als with­out any ad­di­tives, and it’s rea­son­ably priced,” Chen said.

Be­fore it was as widely avail­able lo­cally, she and her friends used to or­der boxes of ice cream from Rus­sia and have it shipped to the city.

A Russian ice cream craze has taken off this year as trade between the coun­tries got a ma­jor push, and Chi­nese con­sumers be­came more aware of prod­ucts from their northern neigh­bor.

It got an even big­ger boost when Russian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin gave Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping a gift of the frozen treat dur­ing the G20 Sum­mit in Hangzhou on Sept 4 and 5.

Af­ter the sum­mit, a lot more deal­ers made in­quiries about im­port­ing Russian ice cream with the En­try-Exit In­spec­tion and Quar­an­tine Bu­reau of Manzhouli in North­east China, where the city borders Rus­sia.

From Jan­uary to Au­gust, the Chi­nese bor­der port of Manzhouli im­ported 271.4 tons of Russian ice cream worth $863,000 — an in­crease in vol­ume of 267 per­cent and a surge in value of 1,388 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics from the bu­reau. The rise in value is at­trib­uted to a greater va­ri­ety of im­ports, in­clud­ing high­er­cost ice cream.

The ice cream gen­er­ally is less ex­pen­sive than many pre­mium brands avail­able in China. One pack­age of Russian ice cream, weigh­ing 100 grams, is typ­i­cally priced at 10 yuan. A small cup of Haa­gen-Dazs ice cream weigh­ing 81g is 33 yuan.

Yu Wei, gen­eral man­ager of Epin­duo, which spe­cial­izes in Russian prod­ucts, said his com­pany has bought 14 tons of Russian ice cream this year, in­clud­ing sev­eral lead­ing brands such as Pres­i­dent, White Po­lar Bear, and Soviet Union, and var­i­ous fla­vors, in­clud­ing choco­late and vanilla. The com­pany has seen sales grow rapidly, and has net­ted more than 200,000 yuan in rev­enue daily.

Epin­duo plans to launch 300 stores na­tion­wide in the next three years.

Con­tact the writers at zhu-wenqian@chi­nadaily. com.cn

ZHOU HUIYING / CHINA DAILY

Russian ice cream sold in Harbin.

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