Nice Blocks is the brainchild of Tommy Holden and James Crow, who came up with the concept for boutique fair-trade ice blocks back in 2009.
“Tommy, burnt out on a beverage project we had been working on, suggested he wanted to make ice blocks and it developed from there. We started by making our first Nice Blocks at night in a café kitchen and selling them at local cafes and music events,” says Crow.
The company continues to grow and 2011 saw the pair set up their own production plant in Penrose, allowing for expansion and ramping up of production. This summer represents three years of flavour development for the brand and new variants have been launched for the warmer months. Raspberry Lemonade, Feijoa, Natural Cola, Chocolate and Vanilla Bean will all join old favourite Lemonade with a Dash of Lime.
“The coconut cream based offerings (Chocolate and Vanilla Bean) have great room for expansion and we expect to launch two new flavours in autumn.”
As the world’s first fair-trade certified ice blocks all of Nice Blocks’ ingredients must meet the strict fair-trade standards of ethical supply chains and removal of chemical pesticides and fertilisers from ingredients. Crow believes their fair-trade status gives them a unique point of difference from their competitors.
“No other producer in our category can say this about their products and based on overseas trends we can see that the demand for more open ingredient information will only become more important to consumers, especially parents and those responsible for buying for the family,” he says.
He attributes consumer demand and a return to the kitchen for many shoppers for the increasing popularity of artisan products.
“Products seem to have become all hype and pack-shot with very little pay-off for the customer. The benefit of the artisan industry is that smaller producers can now provide more interesting options with real personalities and stories behind them.”
While Nice Blocks have predominately concentrated on event promotion they are currently stocked in selected Wellington New World’s, Farro Fresh and Four Squares stores.
“These stores represent a great avenue for Nice Blocks at present as the mix of holiday locations and a call for more artisan options from the holiday market is great for our high-season of December through February. Supermarkets and take-home packs will no doubt become our focus as customer awareness grows and our distribution widens.”
To date their instore support has been focused around social media but this year will see the brand branch out into targeted samplings focused on their core market.
“In the ice block category no one does what we do and that’s how we tackle each day. We’re not out there trying to be the most consumer-driven or profitable for our shareholders and this really shows in the unrestrained quality and finesse in our products. It’s a market full of big players but with our lower overheads we are able to keep the product our number one focus. This means the best organic and fair-trade ingredients making our products the best on the market.”
For more information visit www.niceblocks.co.nz