Considering that ice cream manufacturers see the weather as the main cause for both booming and faltering sales, hot countries such as Portugal, Spain or Italy would appear safe bets for having the highest ice cream consumption.
But, according to Fredericks Dairies, the cold climate is no more of a barrier to ice cream sales than the colour of a brand manager's socks.
Sweden and Denmark lead the way in Europe, it says, and neither is basking in temperatures of 100F.
Fredericks has a good idea why Nordic countries consume so much ice cream. "While ice cream is still mainly eaten in the summer in the UK, the Scandinavians' perception of the category is different - they see it much more as an everyday dessert option," says David Taylor, the company's marketing director.
Still, Britain is the third-largest consumer in Europe - eating around eight litres per person per year - with a take-home market worth £603m, up 1.8% on the previous year [TNS 52 w/e January 1, 2006].
The category is split more or less equally between handheld and dessert ice cream, but while the latter is struggling, down 1.1%, handheld multipacks are up 4.8%.
The market is also starting to mimic that of its Nordic counterparts, and peaks and troughs are now less obvious than a few years ago.
However, there is still lots of room for improvement. Icefresh Foods, a leading supplier of own label desserts and ice cream, is calling on retailers to help.
Simon Spence, MD, says: "Retailers should proactively try to attract shoppers to the total frozen fixture. Frozen is stuck in the 1970s with less than appealing point of sale in the majority of outlets."
He adds: "All-year-round flavours, particularly winter specials and warm chocolate flavours, will assist in ensuring that ice cream becomes popular in the colder months."
British manufacturers and retailers have both been hard at work trying to extend the summer season and deseasonalise the market.
Louise Dunford, category buyer for ice cream and frozen desserts at Somerfield, says: "Outside the main summer season, Christmas is an important sales opportunity not to be overlooked. Retailers are now trying to bring the summer season forward with some summer ranges being launched in-store as early as February."
Meanwhile, brand leader Wall's, which will be supporting its portfolio with £25m in 2006, is adamant that the key to less reliance upon the weather lies in three pillars: innovation, promotion and communication.
Anuj Lal, business director at brand owner Unilever Ice Cream & Frozen Food, says: "The launch of products every season brings excitement for the public, while promotional and communication activity drives awareness and trial of existing lines."
To this end, the food giant is taking its Magnum brand back to basics with a £6.5m relaunch and new flavours to reinforce its indulgence properties.
Looking ahead, the premium and healthy sectors are the most likely areas for growth. Premium, in particular, will continue to benefit from the ever-increasing popularity of the 'big night in', according to luxury ice cream maker Ben & Jerry's.
Antonia Kaul, brand manager, says: "Occasion consumption is a key trend, with people buying a tub of ice cream to eat in front of a film or at a barbecue, so Friday night is becoming a busy ice cream time when people treat themselves for the weekend."
Top ice cream brands