Carmen's Best ice cream targets export market

Joko Magalong

Posted at Jan 30 2016 04:50 PM

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Paco Magsaysay poses in front of the processing plant at the Real Fresh Dairy Farm in Laguna. Photo by the author

MANILA -- When Paco Magsaysay incorporated Carmen's Best Dairy Products in 2009, he wasn't planning on making ice cream.

"We just knew we were going to do something with the excess milk produced by the farm,” Magsaysay told selected food writers during a recent tour of the Real Fresh Dairy Farm.

The 27-hectare farm located in Bay, Laguna was the brainchild of his father, former Senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr., who was inspired by his stint as chairman of the Senate committee on agriculture.

“There is a huge demand for milk in the country," the younger Magsaysay pointed out.

From an initial 100 cows in 2007, the farm now boasts of 264 heads of Holstein milking cows -- and counting. These cows are milked using a bucket type milking machine twice a day, while listening to classical music.

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The cows at the Real Fresh Dairy Farm in Laguna. Photo by the author

The milk is processed on-site in a state-of-the-art facility to produce Holly’s Milk products, which include fresh milk, low fat milk, low fat chocolate milk, yogurt drinks, and fresh cheese (kesong puti), which are available in major supermarkets around the country.

“Quality means taking no shortcuts” is Real Fresh Dairy Farm’s battle cry, and indeed it ensures stringent quality control for its products. This is also why it sells “fresh milk” versus UHT (Ultra High Temperature) processed milk.

Holly’s fresh milk is produced by heating the product up to HTST (High Temperature Short Time), lower than the boiling point of milk. This process rids the milk of disease-causing microorganisms, while not destroying enzymes that are beneficial to our health. Fresh milk also naturally tastes sweeter and creamier than UHT processed milk.

Salted caramel ice cream

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The famous Salted Caramel ice cream of Carmen's Best. Photo: Handout

This high-quality milk is what Carmen’s Best uses solely for its ice cream.

Named after Magsaysay’s youngest daughter, Carmen’s Best Ice Cream started with four flavors in 2011 -- Salted Caramel, Malted Milk, Butter Pecan, and Brazilian Coffee -- which have since become bestsellers. Magsaysay prides himself as one of the forerunners in introducing salted caramel ice cream to the Philippine market.

Magsaysay continues to experiment and come up with new flavors to add to his roster of 37 variants, like He’s Not Worth It, which is this author’s favorite Carmen’s Best Ice Cream flavor. While the name definitely catches one’s attention, a bite of this can surely melt heartaches away.

Inspired by the Mississippi mud pie, it has dark and intense chocolate ice cream with walnuts and morsels of chocolate brownie. This flavor was even featured on "Kris TV."

Apart from using milk from Real Fresh Dairy Farms and other premium ingredients, Carmen's Best also doesn't use prepared mixes, powdered milk, artificial flavors, food coloring and thickeners.

This emphasis on quality has propelled the brand's growth. From being offered in just one location, Carmen's Best is now available in big supermarket chains.

It is also served on Philippine Airline flights, and it was reported that Pope Francis had two servings of salted caramel ice cream during his flight.

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Malted Milk ice cream from Carmen's Best. Photo: Handout

Other interesting flavors besides the original four are the Hokey Pokey (vanilla ice cream with caramel honeycomb) and Secret Breakfast, which is inspired by the US premium ice cream shop Humphry Slocombe and tastes of cereal and whiskey.

One could also opt for the more classic flavors like Rocky Road, Dark Chocolate and Cookies and Cream, or even Filipino flavors like Ube, Coconut, Cheese and Macapuno.

Magsaysay is adamant in not opening a stand-alone ice cream shop, although he reported that the company is in the process of expanding its production capacity for export sales, starting with Southeast Asia.