POLITICS

Cows ships 12,000 tubs of P.E.I. ice cream to launch Beijing location

10/31/2014 05:28 EDT | Updated 12/31/2014 05:59 EST
Canada's premiers were in China this week, hoping to sweeten the trade relationship between the two countries. And Prince Edward Island did its part, by opening a new franchise of Cows, its iconic ice cream store.

It's the work of Frank Zhou, who immigrated to P.E.I. from China almost a decade ago.

Zhou discovered the ice cream shop soon after he moved there with his wife.

"First time I walked into the Cows store and I looked at the image I fell in love instantly," Zhou said.

It wasn't just the Cows logo.

"I love the flavour. Some of the flavours, they are the best ice cream in the world, in my belief," Zhou added

So he began plans to one day open a Cows store in his home country.

Zhou invited friends from China to come visit him in P.E.I., to help taste-test the flavours and decide which ones would be most palatable to the Chinese.

He said they made some adjustments.

"Some of them we cut the sugars in half, and make it more Chinese-like, and I think this will attract more audience in China, instantly," Zhou told CBC.

Tapping a growing middle class

Zhou believes now is a good time to open this type of store in Beijing, as millions of Chinese move from poverty to a growing middle class, including their children.

"There are lots of what we call the new dynasty kids, because they're the only child at home and they have the better standard of living," Zhou explained.

He isn't the only one who sees an opportunity.

Jackie McIntyre, Cows chief executive officer, was in Beijing this week for the opening of the new store.

All of the ice cream will be made in P.E.I., including the 12,000 tubs that were made this summer and shipped to Beijing.

"It means more jobs. It's great exposure for P.E.I. to be in China, for the people to learn more about Prince Edward Island," McIntyre said.

P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz said the sheer number of people in Beijing will expand the potential customer base for Cows.

"A block here in China, in Beijing, is probably the size of Prince Edward Island.

"They've got more cities over five million people, we've never even heard of," Ghiz said.

Ghiz adds that if the ice cream is successful it could help exports of other P.E.I. food products, including oysters, mussels and, of course, potatoes.