TRADITIONAL ice cream vans could be endangered by an economic meltdown as bad summer weather, rising costs and expensive European Union restrictions threaten their survival.
Smith’s Creamland Ices, of High Street, Clay Cross, said it has suffered this year and the Ice Cream Alliance said it was aware the number of ice cream vans in Britain had fallen from about 20,000 to 5,000 in five years.
Joint owner Tina Manfredi, of award-winning Smith’s, said: “It’s been a struggle. The traditional British ice cream van could go the same way as the milk float because if consumers don’t use it they could lose it.
“We manufacture and sell our goods and don’t import and there aren’t many left who are still doing that so there should be more support.”
New EU regulations with lower emission limits on ice cream vans are being introduced in London from January with plans to roll them out across the country so ice cream companies face having to bring in expensive conversions or buy new fleets.
Ice cream companies are also being hit by expensive trade licences and insurance costing around £800 a year on top of rising food and petrol prices and they face down-pricing competition by supermarkets.
And Tina Manfredi told how local authorities take the highest tenders from operators attending their parks or events instead of considering supporting local businesses.
She added: “If EU regulations come here we will have to look at changing some of our vans.
“Insurance and trade licence costs are quite high too because of public liability and that puts people off doing summer fairs.
“We try to keep our prices down but everything else is going up and people are choosing to spend their time at shopping centres and that also affects us.”
The Ice Cream Alliance, which praised Smith’s, said it is calling on the Government to class ice cream as a food and not a luxury item to reduce its VAT.
ICA chief executive Zelica Carr said: “We’ve grown up with ice cream van chimes and we’re working hard to make sure they continue to play a part in British life.”
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