Company secures major deal to sell frozen Yorkshire water to Europe

Nick Brennand of The Ice Co. in South Kirkby. Picture Scott Merrylees
Nick Brennand of The Ice Co. in South Kirkby. Picture Scott Merrylees

Selling ice to Ekimos is seen as an impossible task, but how about selling frozen Yorkshire water to the Europeans?

A South Kirkby firm has managed to pull off a continental coup by securing a major deal to do just that.

The Ice Co, whose roots can be traced back to the 1860s and which opened its state-of-the-art new home on Langthwaite Road in 2007 employing more than 230 people, has landed contracts with two European supermarkets to supply ice cubes.

It raises questions about why foreign businesses thousands of miles would go to the trouble of importing a product that could be made anywhere.

Could it be a devoted Euro love-in for God’s own county and all that it offers, or is it just simple business sense?

Nick Brennand, sales director at The Ice Co, explained: “Being honest, we don’t push the Yorkshire provenance much in marketing our products – however we do find that European retailers like the approach we have as an honest Yorkshire company which has helped us build strong relationships with retailers and customers across the continent.

“Our most premium product – Super Cubes – is made from spring water from the Yorkshire Wolds.

“The core product we supply are Premium Ice Cubes, made from fine filtered purified water.

“It is called Blue Keld spring – Keld means spring in Nordic, the spring appears on historic maps and has been refreshing for centuries.

“Super Cubes are popular on the continent as they are extra large chunks of ice that are slow melting – they are particularly fashionable in Gin and Tonics which are extremely popular throughout Europe.

“Our latest deal with two major European supermarkets is a real coup for the business, and shows the changing habits of European consumers.

“Convenience bags of ice have been popular in the UK for a while, and we’re starting to see that trend move across Europe too.”

The Ice Co, which is the largest manufacturer of ice products in Europe, were able to land the deal after Government International Trade Advisors identified buyers and arranged meetings for the company.

The latest contract follows a major deal the company secured in 2016 to supply supermarkets in the Unite Arab Emirates in the Middle East - largely due to the ex-pat population preferring ice manufactured in the UK, along with its high quality.

And with Brexit looming, Mr Brennand says other firms should be seeking to make deals on the continent, with Yorkshire exports of food and drink hitting £1.2 billion to June 2018 - an increase of 7.9 per cent on the year before.

He said: “For businesses looking to export, it’s important to understand international consumers’ habit. There’s nothing stopping other local food and drink producers from exporting like us.”

Mark Robson, of the Yorkshire and the Humber at Department for International Trade (DIT), agreed: “The firm’s success demonstrates the vast potential and possibilities to export food and drink, and I hope their achievements inspire fellow Yorkshire firms to start their journey in selling overseas.”