Ice Cream Producer Hopes to Show Adults What They’re Missing
Balian Ice Cream Co., which has sold ice cream and fruit-juice bars to Los Angeles County schoolchildren for the last 35 years, is now trying to sell its fruit bars to parents, too.
The family-owned Los Angeles company has built up a $5-million business by supplying ice cream to local schools, including the Los Angeles Unified School District, with its 579,000 students. But the school business isn’t growing, and Balian is now looking to the hotly competitive retail ice cream market for growth.
Since last August, Balian has sold premium ice cream in quarts and pints at three Vons supermarkets in Pasadena, where it has competed against such popular brands as Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream and Haagen Dazs. George Balian, treasurer of the ice cream company, said sales have been encouraging but not strong enough to steal supermarket freezer space from the larger ice cream makers.
Balian’s big break may come later this year, when Vons test-markets its apple-cherry juice bar in 30 Los Angeles stores. The bar, which is made from real juice and contains bits of maraschino cherries, “isn’t real exotic or different, but its a natural flavor-type item,” said John Turley, Vons frozen food buyer.
George Balian reasons that the juice bar has a ready market among Los Angeles schoolchildren. And he hopes that grown-up customers will recognize the company name and trademark--a picture of George’s 57-year-old sister, Agnes, at age 3. “After all, a lot of adults ate our ice cream when they were going to school.”