Soft serve ice cream market in South Africa 2024 – mini-report

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Photo: Chesney Bradshaw

Even in winter, I have observed big demand for ice cream, especially in the coastal town where I live. I’ve prepared this mini-report to give you a quick overview of the market potential for soft-serve ice cream in South Africa. I’m particularly interested in giving this information to entrepreneurs who can find a gap in the market wherever they live. Why is this so? Because jobs are so scarce and entrepreneurial opportunities are so important for job creation. Now, it might seem the wrong time of the year to start thinking about an ice cream startup, but now is the time, right now, because within about three to four months the weather will get warmer and there’ll be much demand for soft-serve ice creams. If you’d like a more detailed analysis, I am a market researcher and business writer who can prepare a report for you on the market. This would involve research interviews with various market players and competitors as well as obtaining more detailed information that may be important for you if you decide on a market entry. If you are interested, then contact me and I will let you know my market research consulting fee.

Quick Market Overview

The soft serve ice cream market in South Africa is experiencing significant growth due to rising consumer demand for indulgent, yet convenient dessert options. The market is bolstered by the country’s warm climate, which drives higher consumption of frozen desserts. Opportunities for entrepreneurs are abundant, particularly in mobile soft serve units and niche flavors that cater to health-conscious and gourmet preferences. Additionally, technological advancements in ice cream machines and innovative marketing strategies, such as social media promotions, present further opportunities for new entrants.

Market Data

In 2024, the South African soft serve ice cream market is valued at approximately ZAR 1.5 billion, with an expected annual growth rate of 6.5% over the next five years. This growth is driven by an increasing middle-class population with disposable income and a burgeoning tourism industry, which boosts demand in urban and coastal areas. Seasonal promotions and the popularity of limited-time offers also contribute to sales spikes during peak periods.

Market Segmentation

The market can be segmented based on:

  • Flavor: Vanilla, chocolate, mixed flavors, and specialty flavors such as fruit-based or vegan options.
  • Distribution Channel: Direct sales through brick-and-mortar outlets, mobile units, and online delivery platforms.
  • End-user: Retail consumers, foodservice industry including restaurants and cafes, and catering services for events.

Market Outlook

The outlook for the soft serve ice cream market in South Africa is positive, with sustained growth anticipated due to the expanding middle class and increasing urbanization. Innovations in healthier options, such as low-fat and dairy-free alternatives, are expected to drive future market trends. Additionally, partnerships between local producers and international brands could introduce more variety and elevate the market standards. Investment in cold chain logistics will be crucial for maintaining product quality and expanding reach to rural areas.

Competitive Landscape

The competitive landscape of the South African soft serve ice cream market is dominated by both local and international players. Key strategies include product diversification, aggressive marketing, and strategic location placements.

Company Profiles

  1. Unilever South Africa (Magnum, Cornetto)
    Unilever is a major player in the ice cream market with a strong presence in soft serve through its well-known brands. The company’s extensive distribution network and robust marketing campaigns help maintain its market dominance.
  2. DairyBelle
    DairyBelle offers a range of dairy products, including soft serve ice cream, and is known for its quality and affordability. The company leverages local dairy resources to deliver fresh and flavorful products.
  3. Frosty’s Soft Serve
    Frosty’s is a popular local brand, recognized for its diverse flavor offerings and strategic placement in high-traffic locations such as malls and tourist spots. The brand focuses on providing a premium soft serve experience.
  4. Woolworths
    Woolworths, a high-end retail chain, has ventured into the soft serve market, offering gourmet options in its in-store cafes. The emphasis on high-quality ingredients and unique flavors sets it apart from traditional soft serve vendors.
  5. KFC South Africa
    KFC has incorporated soft serve ice cream into its dessert menu, capitalizing on its extensive network of fast-food outlets. This integration allows for a significant volume of sales, particularly among younger consumers.


  • Market reports and industry analyses from local business journals and global market research firms
  • Company websites and press releases
  • Industry news articles and trade publications