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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dairies Want to Rename Ice Cream

MTProposed changes call for 70 percent of Russian-made ice cream to be relabeled to reflect a lack of milk content.
Most Russian-made ice cream will no longer be called ice cream if the milk industry gets its way.

A State Duma committee considered a request from milk producers on Thursday to force makers of ice cream consisting of more than 12 percent vegetable oil to rename their product "melorin" instead of "morozhenoye," the Russian word for "ice cream."

About 70 percent of Russian ice cream would fail to meet the purposed standards. The fact that "morozhenoye," unlike "ice cream," literally means "frozen" and gives no indication of its ingredients, does not seem to deter the milk producers.

"The consumer should know whether he is buying real ice cream or a product made of palm oils that has no milk," said Andrei Danilenko, head of the Russian Union of Milk Producers, who attended Thursday's meeting of the Duma agriculture committee.

Since ice cream made with vegetable oil is 20 percent cheaper than the kind made with real cream, calling them the same name is not fair to the milk producers, he said.

A representative of the Duma's agriculture committee said the proposition is one of 61 changes to technical regulations for the milk industry that are under review. Since the proposal would affect the entire industry and is highly contested by various industry players, it has been sent on to the government, the representative said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "It's not the job of the deputies to reconcile the milk union and the ice cream union," he said, adding that the Agriculture Minister Yelena Skrynnik has two committees where the lobbies can work out their differences.

Russian Milk Union official Vladimir Labinov, who presented the case for "melorin" to the Duma deputies Thursday, was not available for comment after the meeting.

Danilenko said he supported Labinov but was ready for a compromise.

"Maybe we can name some products 'morozhenoye' and others 'slivochnoye morozhenoye' [frozen cream]," he said.

The goal is a clearer distinction on ice cream packaging, Danilenko said, so that an elderly woman buying a plombir ice cream brick does not think that it is the same ice cream brick she bought in Soviet times. "It's not like Russia is the only country where this distinction is made," he said.

"Melorin" appears to be borrowed from the English word "mellorine," a nondairy alternative to ice cream that is offered for sale in some U.S. stores.

Retailers are not likely to embrace the measure. "From a marketing perspective, any change in a product's name affects consumer demand," said Vladimir Rusanov, a representative of X5 Retail Group, Russia's largest retailer and owner of the Pyatyorochka and Perekryostok chains. "In this case, the name is not changing for the better."

Ice cream makers fumed at the proposed name change, saying the label "melorin" would scare consumers because it provokes an association with "melamine," the chemical in a recent milk contamination scandal in China.

"Can you imagine how much money ice cream makers will need to spend to prove that melorin is ice cream and not poison?" Russian Ice Cream Union head Valery Elkhov said.

Seventy percent of ice cream in Russia is made using cheaper vegetable oil, which also improves texture and stores longer, the Russian Ice Cream Union said. Russia's ice cream market was estimated at 1.3 billion euros ($1.8 billion) in 2008.