LONDON: R & D brains at Unilever have joined forces with scientists at Cambridge University to devise the world's first ambient ice cream.

In a bid to reduce its carbon footprint, the fmcg giant - whose portfolio includes the top-selling Ben & Jerry, Magnum and Wall's brands - aims to introduce a low-carbon ice cream variety that will be sold at room temperature and can subsequently be frozen at home.

The firm estimates that its global operations already emit some four million tonnes of carbon each year, with the need to keep ice cream frozen during transportation and storage making it one of the firm's most energy-intensive product categories.

But the question of whether ice cream lovers will be prepared to countenance the idea of a warm Vienetta or a soggy Solero, has, says Gary Neath, senior vice-president for sustainability, not yet been put to the test.

"The key question which has yet to be fully answered is how do you ensure that when the ambient ice cream is frozen at home, it will have the right microstructure to produce a fantastic consumer experience?" he said.

Globally, Unilever sells some £4.3 billion ($7bn; €5bn) worth of ice cream every year.

Data sourced from The Times; additional content by WARC staff