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How much money does an ice cream van make UK?

Wondering whether it’s worth your while getting into the ice cream van game? Read on to find out just how much money you could make, and how to get an ice cream van insurance quote.

woman eating ice cream next to ice cream van

An ice cream van in the right spot has the potential to be one of the most lucrative food truck businesses you can run in the UK, capable of generating high-profit margins. However, the strict rules you have to abide by, the impact of supermarket chains, and the seasonality of the product can really put a dent in your earning potential.

If you’re looking at a state-of-the-art commercial ice cream machine then you could make an ice cream for as little as 12p a cone. Selling this cone for an average price of £2 and you’re well on your way to making a healthy profit.

According to job search and recruitment specialist Glassdoor, operating an ice cream van could earn you just over £26,000 a year. But be aware that this information is based on anonymously supplied earnings data ranging from just over £15,000 per year all the way up to £44,000.

World-renowned ice cream equipment manufacturer Carpigiani says there’s a lot of profit to be made in ice cream. For example, if you sell just 50 of your £2 cones a day for 310 trading days a year, then your annual ice cream profit would be £22,940.

That’s not bad, but when you consider the amount of business an ice cream van operating in a busy town park at the height of summer could do, then 50 ice creams a day is a fairly minimal number.

You’re more likely to be selling between 400 and 600 ice creams a day during such periods, which could grow your bottom line considerably.

However, what about on colder, wetter days? Such days will almost inevitably be extremely slow, so you’ll have to bear this in mind when calculating your potential profits.

How much profit you’re able to make will really depend on a wide range of factors. These will include the weather in your area, how popular your pitch is, the variety and type of products you sell, and much more besides.

So, if it looks like the weather for the weeks ahead isn’t great, it might be time to branch out into other areas of the ice cream business. For example, rather than selling on the street to the general public, how about looking at selling at corporate events and wedding receptions?

You could even consider adding other products to your menu, such as sweets, crisps, snacks and hot and cold drinks. There are plenty of ways you can look at boosting sales of both ice cream and other products.

If you're willing to diversify your product line, it can be worth your while to look into starting your own mobile coffee business and apply some small design tweaks to cater your ice-cream van to a fully functioning coffee selling machine!

If you’re looking for ideas on what to do during the coming winter months, then take a look at this interesting article from catering equipment specialists Nisbets. From offering unique, seasonal flavours to knowing when to close up shop, they’ve got some great ideas on how to increase ice cream sales in winter

All you need to know about the costs of running an ice cream van in the UK

There are many advantages to running an ice cream van, and it can be a nice little earner for those willing to put in the time and effort. However, just like any business venture you’ll need to give some thought to creating a well-costed business plan.

It’s one thing to work out how many ice creams you hope to sell, but what you really need to understand is how much it costs to set up an ice cream van business and keep it running for the long term.

No matter how many ice creams and lollies you manage to shift, if your costs are high then you’ll struggle to turn a profit. We created a list of the cheapest foods for catering which can turn a high profit.

Before dreaming of investing in your very own ice cream van and getting into the world of ice cream, read on to find out how much it could cost you. There are a number of costs involved with setting up and running an ice cream van business in the UK. These include:

The cost of the van itself

This could range from £15,000 for a nice five-year-old van up to £50,000+ for a brand-new vehicle with all the mod cons. If you’re just starting out then an ice cream trike or cart could be yours for as little as £3,000. For example, The Cargo Bike Company sells traditional ice cream trikes with freezers and old-fashioned branding for around £2,200, but this depends on the spec you choose.

Necessary ice cream equipment and machines

These costs can vary considerably and can easily set you back thousands of pounds. If you’re looking at investing in a soft-serve ice cream machine then prices can range from £1,000 to £20,000 depending on the specifications. We found this soft serve ice cream maker at Nesbits for just over £5,000.

Street trading licence

How much a street trading licence costs and how you go about getting one will vary across the country. Different local councils have their own rules and fees for mobile caterers wanting to trade in the area.

But be warned, heading out without a street trading licence is a big no-no and could result in a £1,000 fine. That’s a cost you really don’t want to have to meet especially when you’re setting up a business.

Pitch fees

If you want a great pitch in a sought-after location then you’ll probably have to pay big bucks for it. For example, ice cream van pitches on the popular Plymouth Hoe can cost thousands of pounds a year.

And if you want to turn up and sell ice cream at a big event like Glastonbury music festival, then you’ll need to pay for the privilege, too. Finding out the cost of pitch fees is a big part of your business research.

While a small local food market might charge you a nominal fee, other events could charge you hundreds or even thousands of pounds for a space. Be aware, some events might charge you a percentage of your sales rather than an upfront fee.

Franchise fees

Being part of a franchise isn’t for everyone, but there are a number of ice cream franchises that operate in the UK which you can join. This is a popular hassle-free way to get into the ice cream business rather than investing in your own ice cream truck.

But it isn’t ideal for every wannabe ice cream van business owner. And you’ll also need to consider the costs involved including the franchise fee and any ongoing franchise payments.

Stock and ingredients

The cost of ingredients and stock will vary depending on what type of ice cream you’re planning on selling and how you’ll serve it. And it’s not just about whether to specialise in soft-serve or hard ice cream.

There are a vast array of different types of cones, toppings, and sauces available for those who want to offer their customers something a bit different.

And what else will you add to your menu? Ice lollies, sweets and confectionery, hot and cold drinks and other snacks like crepes could also offer something a little bit different when people don’t feel like an ice cream.

Containers and utensils

Again, depending on the type of ice cream you plan to stock you might need various accessories such as scoops and paddles, dippers, spades, tubs and lids, spoons and dispensers for toppings, sauce bottles, and cone holders. They may not be expensive but when added together they can soon mount up.

Ice cream van insurance

Getting an ice cream van insurance quote early in your business planning is well worth doing. But it’s not the only insurance cover you’ll need.

As well as ice cream van insurance, you’ll also want public and product liability cover to protect your business from injury or damage claims from customers. You need to stay aware that ice cream is a perishable food product which can cause customer illness and food poisoning if you’re not careful.


Unfortunately, many ice cream vans are diesel-guzzlers, and with the average litre of diesel now costing over £1.90 fuel costs will have a big impact on your bottom line. Indeed, the increase in fuel prices over recent years has led many ice cream sellers to reduce the number of trade days or even leave the market altogether, as reported by the BBC.

Vehicle tax, MOTs, maintenance and cleaning costs

If you’re driving an ice cream van for your business then you’ll need to arrange an MOT for your vehicle and get it taxed. Keeping on top of maintenance and cleaning is also important if you want your van to stay reliable and look its best for your customers.

Staff wages

When you’re just starting out on your own the wage bill for your business shouldn’t be too large. However, as your business expands and you hire someone to help out then this may change. You’ll also need to factor in employers’ liability insurance when taking on staff.

When you’re busy running your own ice cream van business, any one of these running costs can easily be overlooked. Thankfully, our specialist insurance team at Mobilers can take the pressure off by finding you a range of affordable ice cream van insurance quotes to meet your needs.

Call us for a quote on 01384 429 901 or request a quote through our online portal. For even more information on the costs of setting up and running an ice cream van business, read our ultimate ice cream van costs checklist .

Six top tips for protecting your business

When it comes to balancing the books, keeping costs down and profits up, have these six top tips firmly in mind.

1. Stay on top of the paperwork

There are so many great ways to make decent money by selling ice creams. But if you don’t get the right paperwork in order your business dreams could soon turn into a nightmare.

So, before you get chiming, make sure you complete all the right paperwork for selling ice cream. You’ll need to:

  • Register your food business with the local council.
  • Obtain the right street trading licence from your local council.
  • Complete the appropriate food hygiene and safety training.
  • Prepare a thorough Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) food plan and conduct a risk assessment.
  • Arrange the right insurance cover. Speak to our team about the best ice cream van insurance quote suitable for you and your business.

2. Choose the right pitch

Choosing the right place to pitch your ice cream van, cart, bike or stall is one of the most important decisions you will make and it will have a big impact on your potential profits. You’ll need to balance up the potential footfall in popular areas against the likelihood of competitors nearby. If you plan on pitching up at a festival, find our blog on what festival catering is really like.

In general, finding just the right pitch is one of the hardest tasks when you first set up an ice cream business.

3. Know the rules and regulations

Just as with any food business there are a whole host of rules and regulations to follow when it comes to food hygiene and safety. But for ice cream vans there are some additional rules you’ll need to be aware of.

Over the last decade or so, many local councils have taken steps to ban vans from many of the most profitable areas in towns and cities. Such as near schools, parks and town centres. Find out more what the best UK cities are for food trucks and ice cream vans on a recent blog on our site.

As well as restrictions on where you can and can’t trade, there are also strict rules on when and how you can sound your chimes.

4. Decide on your menu

Whether you’re betting on a traditional Mr Whippy or looking to corner the market in artisanal organic gelato, it’s important to think carefully about the product range you want to offer. Remember, you’ll only have limited space for stock in your van, so you’ll only want to carry products you know will sell well.

5. Come up with a bad weather back-up plan

When the weather is cold and wet, you’ll have a job to shift ice cream. It’s important to have a back-up plan for what to do if the weather turns grim. Hot desserts with ice cream on top, or a range of hot drinks should help boost profits.

6. Speak to Mobilers about insurance

Having the right insurance protection in place and at the right price can do a lot for your business. Speak to our experienced team to find out your options.

And while you’re there make sure to read some of our great blog posts. 20 top tips for starting your own ice cream van business is the perfect place to start!

Getting the price right – the cheapest and most expensive 99s in the UK

Depending on the time of year, the type of ice cream you’re selling and the area you’re working in, the price you charge can vary considerably. As a ball-park figure, the average price of a soft-serve ice cream seems to be anywhere between £1.50 and £2.

Although there have been reports of tourists paying up to £5 for a 99 in some places!

Hard ice cream is generally more expensive than this and can be priced anywhere from £3.50 to £6. Although organic and vegan-friendly ice creams tend to command the highest prices.

To give you an idea of the range of prices charged, in 2021 hotel company Premier Inn conducted a survey of seaside resorts to find where in the UK served the cheapest (and most expensive) 99 ice cream.

Take a look and see how your prices compare.

Top 5 cheapest seaside resorts

  • Southwold, Suffolk, £1.40
  • Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, £1.40
  • Bridlington, East Yorkshire, £1.50
  • Swansea, Swansea, £1.65
  • Conwy, Conwy County Borough, £1.80

Top 5 most expensive seaside resorts

  • Christchurch, Dorset, £3.25
  • Falmouth, Cornwall, £3.00
  • Davids, Pembrokeshire, £3.00
  • Newquay, Cornwall, £3.00
  • Ventor, Isle of Wight, £3.00

Challenging times for ice cream van owners

ice cream van parked on the grass

Ice cream always sells well on a warm day. But despite some record-breaking temperatures this summer, many ice cream van owners have been finding business tough.

With dairy costs soaring and eye-watering fuel price rises at the pumps few would have predicted that inflation would soar to such heights. And this puts pressures on profits.

Fortunately, customers are still looking to treat themselves to an ice cream. But with food prices among the hardest hit by inflation it’s only a matter of time before ice cream sellers have to pass on the cost to customers.

Indeed, according to the Office for National Statistics, the price of fresh milk has risen by nearly 30% in the past 12 months. While the costs of other ingredients such as milk powder and sugar have also soared. And don’t even ask about the Flakes! There’s currently a global shortage.

That said, customers heading to the supermarket to stock up on ice cream and multipacks of branded lollies are seeing inflated prices, too. So supermarkets aren’t having it all their own way.

According to price comparison website, a whole host of sweet treats from Classic Magnums to Cornetto have seen big price rises over the past year. For example, a six-pack of Walls Cornetto Classico Ice Cream Cones has risen almost 40% from £2 in January to £2.75 today.

And will shoppers ever find a true 99 ice cream as good as yours in the supermarket aisle? We think not.

Give us a call and get an ice cream van insurance quote from Mobilers.

There are always challenges for ice cream sellers, but there’s also plenty of help out there. As well as other sellers and the community you serve, there are also companies like Mobilers.

In all the excitement of setting up an ice cream business, it’s all too easy to forget to arrange an ice cream van insurance quote. But if you want to keep your ice cream start-up well protected and get the best cover at the best price, then it’s something well worth finding out.

Take out insurance through Mobilers and you could enjoy policy benefits such as:

  • Instant cover
  • Premiums from select insurers
  • Full fire cover as standard            
  • Fixtures and fittings covered
  • Flexible payment options
  • Discounts available for catering association members
  • Mirrored No Claims Discount

If you’re asking yourself how much money you could make with an ice cream van, be sure to get a quick ice cream van insurance quote from Mobilers today.

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