Flying ice cream? Unilever links with drone delivery service Flytrex

Dive Brief:

  • Unilever has teamed up with drone delivery service Flytrex to deliver ice cream from the CPG giant’s “The Ice Cream Shop” virtual storefront, according to an emailed press release on Wednesday.
  • Shoppers in Flytrex’s coverage area, which currently includes Holly Springs, Fayetteville and Raeford, North Carolina, and Granbury, Texas, will be able to order brands such as Ben & Jerry’s and Breyers through Flytrex’s app for delivery in under three minutes. As part of the partnership, Unilever and Flytrex also have exclusive ice cream bundles available for purchase. 
  • The announcement comes at a time when retailers and brands are exploring ultra-fast delivery options and looking to meet shoppers’ instant needs.

Dive Insight:

Unilever and Flytrex said they will be able to reach “thousands of potential homes” through the approximately one-mile delivery radius of the ice cream delivery service, which is operating under a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) waiver.

Flytrex, which is available to 10,000 homes across North Carolina and Texas, has completed “thousands” of drone deliveries, according to the press release. The company is working with Causey Aviation Unmanned, which specializes in drone delivery service technology, on the Unilever tie-up, per the announcement.

Through Flytrex’s app, shoppers will be able to get real-time delivery updates.

With Flytrex, Unilever has six exclusive bundles available from The Ice Cream Shop, such as “Chocolate Lover’s Bundle,” which includes Breyers Chocolate Truffle, a Klondike Original Vanilla Bar, Magnum Mini Double Caramel Bars, Popsicle Fudgsicle and Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie.

Another option is the “Berry Fruity Bundle” with Breyers Strawberry, Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake Bars, Popsicle Grape, Cherry, Orange Pops, Talenti Roman Raspberry and Ben & Jerry’s Strawberry Cheesecake. There’s also a bundle containing only Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, with flavors including Half Baked, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Cherry Garcia and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.

In the announcement, Flytrex and Unilever cited Allied Market Research research that estimates the global ice cream market will reach nearly $122.1 billion by 2031, up from roughly $68.1 billion in 2020.

The tie-up comes just weeks after Unilever said it’s teaming up with store-hailing service Robomart on on-demand mobile markets stocked with ice cream from The Ice Cream Shop for customers in Los Angeles this summer.

For Flytrex, working with Unilever is the latest step in its efforts to develop its drone delivery service. The company has previously linked up with Walmart and restaurant chains operator Brinker International.

Flytrex, which has operated in North Carolina since September 2020, said it recently launched outside of the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Granbury. At the end of December, the company received FAA approval to expand its radius to one nautical mile beyond its three North Carolina service areas.

Meanwhile, Deuce Drone has teamed up Greer’s Markets in Mobile, Alabama, and Rouses Markets, a supermarket chain in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. Last spring, Kroger announced a delivery pilot with drones made and piloted by Drone Express. Amazon is also working on drone delivery with its Prime Air service.