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March 13, 2017

Gifford's expands regionally, to offer six new flavors at 'Opening Day'

Photo / Tim Greenway
Photo / Tim Greenway
Lindsay Skilling, CEO at Skowhegan-based Gifford's Famous Ice Cream, oversees the production of more than 2 million gallons of ice cream. She's pictured at the Gifford's retail stand in Skowhegan. Skilling announced today that the company's 2016 gallon sales were up 16% over the prior year.

Saying it is expanding in the Mid-Atlantic and South, Gifford's Famous Ice Cream said today its 2016 gallon sales were up 16% over the prior year and that it will open its stands for the season this Friday.

Despite the pending nor'easter and cold weather, Gifford's plans to celebrate its popular "Opening Day" at its five stands in Maine with six new flavors. Long lines form annually for a free, two-scoop small cone of a customer's favorite flavor.

"We're Mainers," Lindsay Skilling CEO of Gifford's, told Mainebiz when she became a Mainebiz Women to Watch 2016 last August. Gifford, 33, replaced her father as CEO last year.

As the stands open, Skowhegan-based Gifford's also announced that it sold 2.2 million gallons of ice cream in 2016, up 16% over last year. That's big growth for a small ice cream company, Gifford's noted in a statement, especially considering that volume sales for U.S. ice cream declined 5% in 2016, according to market researcher Mintel of Chicago.

Since 2014, Gifford's, which has 40-year round and 120 summer employees, has seen total gallon volume sales grow a minimum of 8% annually. Gifford's, a family business founded in 1980, does not reveal monetary sales. It initiated a five-year strategic planning initiative that included a $1.6 million expansion at its Skowhegan facility last year.

The company also said today that it is expanding in the Mid-Atlantic states and the South. In April, Gifford's will start selling ice cream at Lowes Foods in North and South Carolina and at ShopRite, with stores in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

New flavors on opening day

The stands will give out free ice cream from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Auburn, Bangor, Farmington, Skowhegan and Waterville. The day also marks the start of a season-long fundraising initiative to support veterans. Skilling said Gifford's will make cash donations to several veterans' organizations, including the Travis Mills Foundation, and that employees are focusing their volunteer efforts on veteran's causes and initiatives throughout 2017.

For those already anticipating the Friday opening, the new flavor choices are:

  • Blueberry Oat Crumble — A frozen yogurt with cinnamon oat clusters dropped into low-fat vanilla yogurt striped with Gifford's homemade Maine wild blueberry ripple.
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter — The company's award winning World's Best Chocolate will wrap around a peanut butter ripple.
  • Moo-slide — A rich, velvety coffee-liqueur ice cream base with a fudge ripple and melty, dark chocolate morsels.
  • Power Play Fudge — Crushed chocolate cookies in a golden vanilla ice cream full of fudge-filled chocolate pucks and crossed with a milk-fudge ribbon. Inspired by the Boston Bruins hockey team, this flavor has been in grocery stores since last October but now will also be at the five stands.
  • Southern Peach — Diced peaches submerged in peach ice cream.
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