Farmer launches petition to keep Tip Top in New Zealand hands

A petition has been launched to keep iconic ice cream maker Tip Top in farmer hands, as Fonterra considers selling it.

The co-operative needs to slash debt by $800 million, and selling some or all of the ice cream company will help the bottom line - and that could mean an overseas buyer.

"We need to keep our options open at the moment, but our preference is to keep it in New Zealand," said Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell.

If sold overseas, it wouldn't be the first time - with Tip Top having had both US and Australian owners.

However one Fonterra farmer doesn't want that happening again, and has started a petition to help farmers save Tip Top from the chopping block.

"Tip Top is a brand that a lot of Kiwis know and trust, and farmers want it owned by New Zealand farmers and just keep that strong link from farm to freezer," said farmer Mathew Herbert.

Mathew Herbert wants Tip Top kept in NZ farmers hands.
Mathew Herbert wants Tip Top kept in NZ farmers hands. Photo credit: Newshub

Meanwhile, AUT marketing lecturer Jessica Vredenburg said the ice cream company is iconic.

"It's really tied to the essence of New Zealand; a lot of people say its a family brand that they grew up with that they remember as kids and going to the beach," she said.

She believes that could be a risk for an overseas owner that might not understand local nuances.

"Even if its operating in New Zealand, a lot of loyal brand advocates might feel betrayed by the brand," said Ms Vredenburg.

Fonterra will reveal its plans for Tip Top in February.