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Carmen's Best Ice Cream

Source:Food Bev Asia

Date Published:12/27/2018 08:12:29 AM

Commitment to product quality and taste is winning Carmen’s Best Ice Cream seals of approval in Asia and the Middle East, writes JEAN ALINGOD-GUITTAP.  

FRANCISCO “Paco” Magsaysay gets personal with his ice cream – that is, he named his ice cream brand, Carmen’s Best Ice Cream, after his daughter, and he has been whipping up flavours inspired by memories of childhood travels and eating frozen delights. The strategy is proving to be successful and has so far brought the Philippine brand to Hong Kong and Singapore. Its next stop: Japan and Dubai.

Francisco Magsaysay started Carmen's Best Ice Cream in the Philippines.

In 2009, Francisco Magsaysay started Carmen's Best Ice Cream in the Philippines.

What’s the story behind establishing Carmen’s Best?

My father, Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay, Jr, and his friends bought a dairy farm in Bay, Laguna in 2007, and they initially planned to offer 100% fresh milk. This means pasteurising the milk at the right temperature of 76.5 °C. Most milk available in the market is prepared differently to prolong shelf-life. At first, we had trouble selling the milk because it won’t last as long as the other commercial brands. So, my dad asked my help to sell the milk, or find some use for it. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. In October 2009, we registered the company, Carmen’s Best Dairy Products, not knowing yet that we would be making ice cream. We started playing with flavoured milk, cheese, pastillas [a popular milk-based confectionery in the Philippines] and other possible products you could make with milk, but something just didn’t feel right.

It was only after about a year when I realised the potential of creating a product that I truly love. I remember how during all my travels growing up, there was one thing that I always had to try – ice cream. Thinking back on the flavours I ate during my travels, I remember how happy I felt eating them for the first time. And that’s exactly the feeling I had when I tasted our very own Carmen’s Best. That’s when I knew that we were up to something special. Something that I would be proud to share with my two sons, my daughter Carmen and to the families of everyone who chooses our product.

The brand bears my daughter’s name, and because it does, I will never shortchange the quality of our ice cream.  Using another brand name would create a sense of detachment, but not with this one. When it’s your only daughter's name, there is a different attachment to it. It’s more personal. It’s a commitment to creating the best product that we can. It’s a commitment to Carmen.

How was your experience like breaking into the market? 

We first made three flavours: chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. Then, we experimented with the more complex ones: Salted Caramel, Brazilian Coffee, Butter Pecan and Malted Milk, which remain our bestsellers until now. But even then, we made it a point to use only the best ingredients when we created the flavours. We never took shortcuts, and each one of them was made with a distinct character and inspiration.

Carmen's Best Ice Cream

Brazilian Coffee, Salted Caramel, Butter Pecan and Malted Milk are among the top favourites at Carmen’s Best. They come in 115 mL (3.89 fl. oz.) and 440 mL (14.88 fl. oz.) tubs.

Where do you take inspiration from? What’s the process involved in creating new tastes?

I wanted to make ice cream the way I felt it should be made…as if a part of a special meal prepared for loved ones.  I spent most of my growing years in the United States so I got exposed to a variety of flavours, and perhaps, very Western ones. That and my own experience as a kid eating ice cream in places I visited around the world inspire a lot of the flavours that we offer, such as the Hokey Pokey, which I tried in New Zealand, and the Spanish Turon in Spain, which is an almond ice cream. Every flavour has a story. And as I continue to travel, I get to eat more ice cream, and try different flavours. I think I’m able to successfully put that in the menu of Carmen’s Best. I have a team who helps me out with the formulation, but I do the final taste test. 

Consumers are increasingly demanding transparency regarding food sources, production practices, etc. Could you share how your company stays transparent?

Now that people are more aware of what goes into the food they eat, they are more concerned about how their food is made. We are transparent in how we make our ice cream; how we choose our ingredients; and of course, food safety. We aim to be a long-term player in the ice cream industry as we slowly grow our business and make sure our customers understand how and why we make ice cream the way we do. 

Our farm staff are all regular employees and are treated as family members. We rely on them to help us care for our cows. We understand that happy and healthy cows will give us the best possible milk. A study shows that having cows listen to music distracts them and allows them to stay calm during the milking process. This makes it easier for them to release oxytocin—a hormone associated with the milking process—hence improving their milk productivity.

What about in terms of milk processing, how has the company differentiated itself from competitors?

We process our milk as fresh milk, High Temperature/Short Time (HTST).  The HTST treatment involves heating the product to about 75 °C and holding it at the temperature for 15 seconds sufficiently high to kill the pathogenic microorganisms and others that could shorten the shelf life of the product.  The milk is pasteurised and not UHT (ultra-heat treatment) processed so that it doesn’t lose considerable amount of ascorbic acid, folacin, Vitamin B12, and Thiamine. The taste and nutrients remain in the milk, which makes our ice cream different.

Could you also kindly give us a sense of your ingredients supply chain?

Carmen’s Best Ice Cream only uses the finest ingredients: 100% fresh cow’s milk brought over daily from our dairy farm in Bay, Laguna. Other ingredients used are from all over the world: Horlicks malted milk from England, chocolates from Switzerland, rum from Jamaica, the finest vanilla beans from Madagascar and Turon de Jijona from Spain. We do not substitute. If some ingredients cannot be sourced locally, we import them. We stop producing certain flavours, if the ingredients are not available.

How do you address issues such as preventing contamination and proper food handling?

We require all suppliers of our raw ingredients to submit a Certificate of Analysis to make sure that our raw ingredients are safe to use.  For our production line, all our production employees wear safety shoes, masks and safety uniforms. Down to our trucks, our drivers wear safety uniforms at all times.

The Carmen’s Best at Power Plant Mall in Makati, Philippines, offers a new space for indulging in ice cream.

The Carmen’s Best at Power Plant Mall in Makati, Philippines, offers a new space for indulging in ice cream. 

How many flavours do you now carry and where do you market them?

We used to have 40 flavours but trimmed it down to 30.  We maintain the most saleable flavours.

In the Philippines, we are in key provinces such as Cebu, Davao, Cagayan de Oro and Bicol.  Our products are also available in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Given the trend toward health and wellness, what fine-tuning have you had to make, if any, to suit certain market preferences? 

We have come up with a No Sugar Added (NSA) version for our Dark Chocolate, Pistachio, Madagascar Vanilla and Brazilian Coffee ice cream. 

Could you share about your plans of bringing your company further?

We plan to export to more countries. Initial talks have started with Dubai and Japan. We’ve opened our first standalone ice cream shop at the Power Plant in Rockwell, Makati, and we plan to open two more ice cream shops by next year.



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