USA's Mini Melts ice cream launched in India

NDTV ProfitUSA's Mini Melts Inc launched its ice cream in India today and said it aims to make it available in 1,200 outlets in the next three years across the country.

It is priced at Rs. 40 for an 82 grams cup. Two other packs come in at Rs. 60 and Rs. 85 with higher quantity, according to a company statement.

Mini Melts ice cream is produced at a temperature of about minus 190 degrees. Unlike traditional ice cream, it is flash-frozen to lock in its flavour and has no air whipped into it, it said.

"In order to keep its shape and flavour, Mini Melts is stored at -45C, in specially designed and imported freezers, making it the world's coldest ice cream," it added.

Norwich Ice Cream Maker, Mini Melts, Revs Up For Wal-Mart Partnership

The DayNorwich - The nondescript Mini Melts factory, tucked away in back of a city highway department building off Asylum Street, has been quietly churning out millions of cups of the beaded ice cream product over the past year.

Now production is about to go into high gear, with the company expanding from 30 employees to 50. After all, ice cream season is approaching.

But it's more than that.

Wal-Mart has come calling as well.

"I believe the reason we got the Wal-Mart account was the quality of our product," Shawn Kilcoyne, Mini-Melts USA Inc.'s Philadelphia-based chief executive officer, said during an on-site interview. "Mini Melts is the premium choice in beaded ice cream."

A lot of competitors in the cryogenically frozen ice cream market that Mini Melts inhabits offer products with 10 percent butterfat. Kilcoyne said his ice cream is 14 percent butterfat, which gives it a distinctive rich, creamy flavor.

The Day

Mini Melts hasn't officially released news about its new contract with Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which is expected to be announced Monday. But Kilcoyne was happy to talk about the deal during a tour of the 25,000-square-foot factory as workers with white hairnets and smocks moved ghostlike in a large, chilly production area where freezing ice cream combined with room temperature to create a subtle fog.

Just two machines are used to place Mini Melts into the distinctive cups that are dispensed in vending machines nationwide, and another large contraption mixes up the ice cream using a cryogenic process involving liquid nitrogen.

The multicolored Mini Melts, in flavors that include cookie dough, cotton candy, banana, strawberry, chocolate and vanilla, also come in larger containers, suitable for kids' parties.

Mini Melts USA - not to be confused with Mini Melts Inc., still controlled by company founder Tom Mosey of Mystic, who retains the ice cream patent and the building - has been pursuing a deal with retailing giant Wal-Mart for a couple of years, said Kilcoyne. He and brother Dan own the manufacturing and distribution rights to Mini Melts in the United States.

Wal-Mart finally agreed to a test run using Mini Melts vending machines in 160 stores and a dozen states, and the results were impressive, Kilcoyne said, spurred by a price about half what customers were used to seeing at amusement parks. The product, flash-frozen and shipped using dry ice, is kept in factory freezers at 40 degrees below zero, and the ice cream melts quickly at room temperature.

"It's a fun product," Kilcoyne said. "But you have to eat it there. You can't take it home with you."

The devices have been placed next to Red Box video dispensers at the Wal-Marts where they have been tested, and Kilcoyne said the pairing will continue during the upcoming rollout.

The product is being introduced in most of the more than 5,000 Wal-Marts around the country starting next month - but for now only in stores such as Lisbon Landing that don't contain a McDonald's restaurant, Kilcoyne said. He wouldn't specify exactly how many stores are involved, but said the company hopes to add Mini Melts in well over 1,000 other Wal-Marts if the restriction involving McDonald's is lifted.

But even without a full Wal-Mart rollout, he said, the additional business will mean expanding from one to three shifts at the factory, adding new machinery and increasing the amount of automation. He expected job numbers at the factory could triple to 100 in the coming year or so, and said the extra distribution will likely mean annual layoffs that occurred in the slow December-to-March period could largely be avoided.

The Day

Kilcoyne wouldn't quantify the effect of the Wal-Mart contract on his business. But he did say the company wants to ensure that Mini Melts avoids becoming too reliant on any one customer - chiefly by trying to move aggressively into new markets.

The company is making a big push in Florida, arranging for vending machines to be installed in close to 300 new sites.

Mini Melts distributes to all 48 of the contiguous United States. Before Wal-Mart, its main distribution points were amusement centers, zoos, malls, theme parks - basically any place that attracts large numbers of children and young adults.

Mini Melts vending machines, produced by Danbury manufacturing company Fastcorp LLC, are being assembled as quickly as possible to facilitate the Wal-Mart launch. Kilcoyne said the company expects to have 25,000 machines in place within the next three to five years.

"We're going to represent 25 to 30 percent of the ice cream vending machine market," he said.

Kilcoyne said he and the rest of the leadership staff at Mini Melts has been heavily influenced by Walt Disney's philosophy of "if you dream it, you can do it." Kilcoyne and his younger brother started selling ice cream while in high school, and they went on to build a thriving Mini Melts business in the Philadelphia area before taking on the distribution of the product nationwide just three years ago.

Charlie Hannah, vice president of business development for Mini Melts USA and a boyhood friend of Kilcoyne, said the impressive thing about the company's top brass is that they never sit on their laurels. They are always trying to make improvements, even when things seem to be going well, he said.

"We're not going to rest where we're at," Hannah said.

Vending Times:
Issue Date: Vo. 50, No. 7, July 2010
Tim Sanford

Fastcorp Fast-PRO Distribution Plan Offers Operators Growth Avenue

Vending TimesDANBURY, CT -- Fastcorp LLC has announced a national partnership program with leading vending operators in major markets. The company reports that its Fastcorp Preferred Regional Operator model is designed to speed implementation of its new field sales and service initiatives.

Over the past year, Fastcorp has redesigned its celebrated frozen-product vender to incorporate new technology, resulting in the Evolution design. This further refines the company's original concept, which is to store product in a base-mounted freezer chest for maximum refrigeration efficiency and protection, and apply robotics to the functions of opening the chest lid, retrieving and delivering the product, and closing the lid again.

Fastcorp has restructured its sales division as part of a new marketing approach that seeks to generate placement opportunities for operators by targeting prospective accounts.

The equipment maker also reports that it has developed solutions to many perceived obstacles to widespread deployment of ice cream and frozen-food machines, such as the availability of suitable product, frozen transportation and frozen storage.

To advance these programs, Fastcorp has formed major brand partnerships in the United States and abroad. Domestic brand partners include Schwan's, Blue Bunny, Dippin Dots and Mini Melts. The company also has developed both Unilever and Nestlé business relationships in Europe.

Walmart Expands Mini Melts Vending Kiosk Pilot To 12 States

Vending TimesNORWICH, CT -- A test of dedicated Mini Melts vending machines in Walmart stores has led to an expanded pilot in a dozen states that will likely set the stage for further expansion and present an opportunity for independent operators to service them.

The test of Mini Melts-branded Evolution venders, made by Danbury, CT-based Fastcorp, began in February in 20 stores in Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Sales exceeded expectations and, based upon the results, Walmart expanded the program to additional markets, according to Shawn Kilcoyne, chief executive of Norwich, CT-based Mini Melts USA Inc.

The ice cream venders -- which the companies call kiosks -- are now in Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Missouri, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas and Virginia.

The most recent market, added in mid-October, is Dallas, where the Mini Melts team installed machines in 52 stores in one day, marking the largest single-day rollout in the company's history.

Vending TimesThe machines are merchandised with cups of the novel cryogenically frozen ice cream beads in six flavors. All of them are equipped with wireless technology, enabling automated reporting to Walmart, as well as credit card acceptance.

Mini Melts USA president Dan Kilcoyne credits the Wal-Mart team for much of the vending pilot's success. "We had originally set a high-bar for performance and to date we have exceeded expectations," he said.

Current Walmart machines are operated by "a 50-50 mix" of Mini Melts corporate staff and members in its network of independent operators, which it would seek to expand, if the Walmart program is extended to other states.

Fastcorp president Todd Piatnik said that if the newer deployments continue to perform well, there will be prospects for further expansion to additional markets in 2013. "There will be substantive opportunity for vending operators to get involved should Walmart expand this," he said.

Ice Cream Manufacturer Mini Melts Appoints Director of Sales for its USA Amusement Park and Distributor Operations

CNBCNORWICH, Conn., July 15, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Shawn Kilcoyne, CEO of Mini Melts USA, Inc., announced that David S. Tade is joining the company as Director of Sales. Mr. Tade previously held a variety of positions in 13 years at Dippin' Dots in areas such as operations, customer service, sales, training, marketing, business and system development, and management. Mr. Tade will focus on cultivating existing distributors, as well adding new partners to our distribution network. Additionally, Mr. Tade will work with new and existing IAAPA member customers in the amusement park industry. "I am committed to providing exceptional field service to our customers and network of distributors," noted Tade.

"With over 13 years of industry experience, David Tade is a priceless addition to our organization," noted Shawn, "but experience alone was not the reason for inviting Mr. Tade to join our team. Mr. Tade holds himself to a higher standard and he is a moral and ethical person with an exceptional work ethic. Our entire team at Mini Melts is committed to delivering an outstanding product to our customers and to support them with exceptional customer service and David is committed to this mission." In accepting the position, Mr. Tade cited numerous reasons. "I am thrilled to be part of such a growing and exciting organization. I sincerely believe that working together with the Mini Melts team, we can do great things. These are exciting times for Mini Melts and I eagerly anticipate embarking on this journey with everyone." "Beginning as teenagers," added Dan Kilcoyne, who serves as president of Mini Melts USA, Inc., "Shawn and I have devoted our entire professional careers to this industry. When we began as Dippin' Dots dealers in the 1990's, David Tade was of great assistance to us as we grew to become one of their largest dealerships." Mini Melts produces cryogenically frozen ice cream in a patented process that uses liquid nitrogen to flash freeze the ice cream in seconds and lock in the flavor. The product is continuously kept at -40 F until served to the consumer.

The ice cream is offered through kiosks, vending machines, carts and serving freezers in various venues such as theme parks, entertainment centers, shopping malls, zoos and anywhere people, particularly children, congregate. Mini Melts is manufactured in a 25,000 square foot facility located in Norwich, CT. The plant now has the capacity to produce over two million gallons of ice cream annually.

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