It might sound odd – okay it does – but there’s gold in a new Häagen-Dazs ice cream.
Launched in Japan at the end of November, “Opera” is an exclusive new product that indeed has real gold sprinkled atop an ice cream minicup.
Norio Mase-San is Häagen-Dazs Japan’s new president and he’s leading it at an exciting time. He just started his General Mills and Häagen-Dazs career in September.
We had a chance to ask Mase-San a few questions about Opera, and his work.
Real gold? What’s the story behind Opera, and how are consumers reacting?
Mase-San: Our Opera product was developed based on the traditional French Opera cake, which is a multilayered almond sponge cake soaked in coffee syrup, covered in chocolate glaze and sprinkled with real gold. Each Opera minicup has .18 grams of real gold-coated sugar, and we use a 22 karat gold leaf to coat the sugar. Each 110ml mini cup sells for US$5.20. We’re getting ready to produce more to meet the high demand.
You became president in September. What experiences from your past have helped you in this new role?
Mase-San: I worked for Suntory, a Japanese brewing and distilling company, for 35 years and had extensive experiences in a variety of fields – advertising, marketing, new product and packaging development and purchasing.
Häagen-Dazs was recently recognized for its strength as a brand in Japan. What would you like to highlight?
Mase-San: Since 2010, we made notable improvements in a country-wide survey of 560 companies. We were first in packaging design (we were sixth in 2010), first in having high quality products and services (11th in 2010) and first in consumers ability to perceive a difference between our brand and others (4th in 2010). This survey, conducted by Nikkei Research, is a significant recognition of our efforts to keep getting better.
What do you see for the brand in the months ahead?
Mase-San: I anticipate business to be back on track for growth in the beginning of 2012. Our strengths as a brand, as reflected in the survey, along with notable products like Opera with gold and the launch of our new Crepe Glace should help us grow.
What’s your favorite Häagen-Dazs product?
Mase-San: Though it’s only available in Japan, my family and I especially enjoy Crepe Glace. It’s a soft crepe filled with ice cream, and it comes in a variety of flavors.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Mase-San: I like to spend my weekend bird watching, hiking and taking pictures in nature. I go stream fishing in spring.
How is Japan recovering from last year’s earthquake?
Mase-San: The Japanese people’s cooperative effort for recovery is incredible. Private sectors and households overcame this midsummer’s power shortage by saving electricity, for example. I believe the day Japan recovers from the disaster will be here before long.
Even though Japan has gone through a devastating disaster, it’s still an affluent, secure country with kind-hearted people.
Please come to visit us – and you’ll get to experience the beautiful taste of Crepe Glace and all the other amazing Häagen-Dazs products that offering pure pleasure to all in Japan.