Halo Top raked in $17,698,884 in 2018 in Australia alone. Picture: Instagram @halotopau
Halo Top raked in $17,698,884 in 2018 in Australia alone. Picture: Instagram @halotopau

$17.7m ice cream Aussies love

Today, Justin Woolverton and Douglas Bouton are making millions from their wildly successful ice-cream empire - and they owe it all to a $20 gadget.

It was back in 2011 when Mr Woolverton started experimenting on his own kitchen benchtop in a desperate attempt to make an ice cream that wouldn't leave him feeling "terrible".

That's because the former Los Angeles lawyer, now aged 39, had lived with severe hypoglycaemia - or low blood sugar - for his whole life, a condition that had even caused him to faint several times when his sugar levels got out of balance.

So he bought a $20 ice-cream maker and started having some fun with it, devising a low-calorie, low-sugar and high-protein option that also happened to taste great.

That's when he realised his discovery might be a hit.

For the first 18 months, he developed a winning formula that was able to be reproduced on a larger scale and in 2012, his company officially launched.

The following year his friend and fellow lawyer Douglas Bouton came on board after he quit his demanding legal job.

Aussies are the second-biggest ice-cream consumers per capita, behind the US. Picture: Instagram @halotopau
Aussies are the second-biggest ice-cream consumers per capita, behind the US. Picture: Instagram @halotopau

Now, Halo Top Creamery is a $2 billion company with products sold across the US, Australia, Mexico, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom.

And in 2018 in Australia alone, the company raked in a staggering $17,698,884, with Halo Top also emerging as the number one "pint-sized" ice-cream brand in both Coles and Woolworths last year.

Mr Bouton, 32, who is in Australia, said it was still a shock the brand had developed a cult-like following both Down Under and around the world.

Justin Woolverton launched the $2 billion company from his own kitchen.
Justin Woolverton launched the $2 billion company from his own kitchen.

"Justin started it in his kitchen because he quite literally wanted to make ice cream he could eat a lot of and not feel terrible … and not hate himself for it," he told news.com.au

"The key was it had to be nutritionally good enough so he could eat a lot, and it had to not taste like a punishment.

"After he did that he had a eureka moment - he could hardly sleep because he thought there could really be something in this."

Mr Bouton said the pair had noticed how the Greek yoghurt trend had transformed the supermarket yoghurt aisle, and they figured they could do something similar with ice cream by adding a healthy option to the market.

New Aussie-themed flavours are in the pipeline. Picture: Instagram @halotopau
New Aussie-themed flavours are in the pipeline. Picture: Instagram @halotopau

"It was the right product at the right time - we've created a great brand as well, but the key is will this be a lasting trend or a fad?" Mr Bouton said.

"We don't know what people will think about fads like gluten free or non-GMO in 10 years, but but we're confident low-sugar, low-calorie and high-protein will be a lasting consumer eating trend."

Unsurprisingly, given our sunny weather, Australians are the second-biggest ice-cream eaters per capita in the world, behind the US.

Mr Bouton said that fact, as well as Australia's love of healthy eating and living, meant the brand was doing especially well here.

He hinted some Aussie-specific flavours could be hitting supermarket shelves in the near future and urged customers to get in contact with flavour suggestions.

Halo Top has also expanded its dairy-free and vegan line, with new "seasonal flavours" also in the pipeline.

The pair nearly abandoned the company during the “dark years”. Picture: Instagram @halotopau
The pair nearly abandoned the company during the “dark years”. Picture: Instagram @halotopau

But while working in ice cream is a dream job today, Mr Bouton said the pair referred to 2013-2015 as the company's "dark years" - a period plagued by so many crises they once planned to abandon the company altogether if their fortunes didn't improve.

"The product and the brand wasn't resonating … we were personally bankrupt, putting in every last dime we had and taking out loans to keep it afloat," he said.

"We were barely surviving as a company, and we literally said we would fold by the end of 2016 because we can't keep doing this."

But they did a "massive reformulation" of the product, as well as a "massive rebrand" - and shortly after, they started to get positive media coverage.

Doug Bouton joined the company in 2013.
Doug Bouton joined the company in 2013.

"It was perfect timing, or serendipity, because it just took off, and the company almost went viral," Mr Bouton said.

"Sales were doubling month over month and we were on a rocket ship of growth - it was absolutely surreal.

"Now our worst day at Halo Top is better than our best day in the law firm - we spend our whole days in the factory tasting ice cream, so life could be a whole lot worse."

 

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