THE maker of popular summer ice-cream bars Weis is planning a push into the Chinese market.
The Toowoomba company has exported bars to Japan for more than 20 years and close to 30 per cent of its business is now outside Australia.
Co-owner Julie Weis said the company was looking to further grow its overseas business.
"We got to a point where our export markets, particularly in the US, took off faster than expected and any excess capacity in our plant was gone," she said.
"We were contained - until we did an expansion at our factory and got equipment in place.
"That's finished and now we'll be going aggressively to find new markets for our product."
Weis' biggest market is now the United States where it sells through retail chain Trader Joe's.
Korea is its most recent market and 7-Eleven stores in Taiwan have been taking product for five years.
The company is focusing on certain regions of China as the next big market.
"We can't take on the whole country, only specific regions," Ms Weis said.
"They love mangoes and macadamia nuts and they love Australian products because of their trustworthy origins."
The company's overseas push was inspired by the seasonal nature of the Australian market for ice creams.
Ms Weis said there was a huge difference between summer and winter sales.
"People don't tend to buy them as much in winter. Having a mango bar is all about the summer holidays.
"While we have broader range and those products are much more evenly consumed, bars are the core of our business and they are very seasonal.
"(Previously) we had to let staff go over winter and retrain people for summer.
"The idea of exporting is to find countries that have an opposite seasonal pattern and to keep staff operational."
The factory employs about 80 to 100 staff.
Workers just finished processing a huge batch of mangoes from the Burdekin region.
Now container loads of product will be sent on ships across the world.
The ice-cream empire was started by Les Weis who had a corner store across from the Empire Theatre on Neil St.
His Fruito bars soon became popular and he started factory production in 1957.
The company recently branched out with a new frozen yoghurt range done the "Weis way" with natural fruits and swirls of yoghurt.
It also has tubs of sorbet featuring exotic flavours.
Ms Weis said the product's popularity had boosted confidence.
"It's easy to get first the order but it's managing the market place over time that's a difficult thing."
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