Food Fight

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The Ice Cream Wars

ice cream AP
Ice cream shops like this one are generally run by small entrepreneurs who make their own flavors. Companies like R&R and DMK produce the treats on a mass scale and sell them to big discounter stores.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    DMK and R&R are in a high-stakes battle for supremacy in the frozen food aisles of Europe’s largest supermarket chains, a business worth billions.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Gotthard Kirchner sold Rosen Eiskrem to competitor DMK in 2012, and in 2013 sold them his remaining 10 percent stake.
    • Gotthard Kirchner’s new employer, R&R Ice Cream, based in Leeds, is the second-largest ice cream producer in Europe.
    • Supermarket labels account for about 50 percent of ice cream sales in Germany.
  • Audio

    Audio

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DMK, Rosen and R&R are companies hardly anyone knows. And yet almost every German has licked their creations, sold in the frozen food aisles at major supermarkets like Aldi, Lidl and Penny under flowery brand names like Gelatelli, Grandessa and Mucci.

An equally surprising and titillating personnel change has now created turmoil in the consumer products industry: Gottfried Kirchner – who sold Rosen Eiskrem, Germany’s biggest manufacturer of ice cream, to Deutsche Milchkontor, or DMK – is now taking a job as head of German operations for a British company, R&R Ice Cream, the biggest competitor in the industry.

The changeover comes at a bad time for the Bremen-based dairy products maker and Mr. Kirchner’s former company. DMK’s ice cream division is ailing, and the company hasn’t even identified synergies from the Rosen purchase yet.

R&R is taking advantage of the company’s current weakness to launch a counterattack, with Mr. Kirchner’s support. It’s a high-stakes battle for supremacy in the frozen food aisles of Europe’s largest supermarket chains, a business worth billions.

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