A DEVELOPING taste for real dairy ice cream in the Far East and a growth in chocolate sales have propelled Mackie’s of Scotland to an annual turnover of more than £12 million and profits of just under £1m.

The results to the end of May 2017 came in a year in which Aberdeenshire-based Mackie’s opened their first ice cream parlour in Aberdeen in December.

Turnover was up one per cent at £12.2m, helped by its chocolate range becoming established, showing growth of 98 per cent.

Export sales to the Far East – predominately Taiwan and Korea – are up 19 per cent on the previous year.

Managing director, Mac Mackie, said: “My father’s motto was always ‘no change, no chance’ – and that certainly sums up the past few years very nicely here at the farm.

“Not only has our ice cream become established in new markets, such as Korea and Taiwan, but we are making real developments south of the border – something that we hope we can continue to grow.

“A milestone moment has also been the launch of our first retail venture, our 19.2 parlour in Aberdeen’s celebrated Marischal Square, which is already helping us to develop new flavours and get instant feedback from customers.”

The ice cream brand has seen success south of the border, too, with significant growth and the strengthening of its honeycomb flavour sales in Sainsbury’s – with the company’s UK wide market share growing to six per cent.

However, despite these positive developments, total turnover from ice cream sales was down two per cent, mainly due to the soaring price of cream, which has risen by a massive 250 per cent over the year, causing the firm to postpone some promotional activity.

Mackie’s is largely cushioned from dairy market price hikes by producing almost all its milk from its own herd, but it still has to buy a considerable volume of additional cream and has warned that this will continue to put pressure on ice cream sales.

The family firm’s investment in solar panels as it works towards energy self-sufficiency with a mix of wind, solar and biomass, is also reaping further benefits – with almost 70 per cent of the energy it uses comes from their own renewable sources, and surpluses sold on.

Mackie’s net assets are up £1m, and its 330 milking cows, the working farm linked to the business, are valued at more than £500,000.

The firm’s £954,000 operating profit has been reinvested in the company and ice cream parlour to provide future growth.

Mackie’s is also a living wage employer and has seen staff numbers increase to 73 in the most recent financial year – with a new team of 12 staff recruited for the new parlour.

Its “sky to scoop” ethos sees them create everything, from their dairy products from their own herd to their packaging, on site.

Its fourth-generation family farm started producing ice cream in 1986.

Mackie added: “2017 was certainly a year of evolution for the business – and we’ve invested large amounts into some very exciting new projects.

“Our 19.2 parlour will undoubtedly be a major focus for this year – and we’re hopeful that we can begin to look for the next Scottish site and consider how to grow that part of the business further.”

The Mackie family began making ice cream in 1986.