IPIA Today

The International Packaged Ice Association is celebrating 100 years. The association has evolved through 4 name changes in its 100 years, all to reflect the changing nature of the industry and product. In 1917 as the National Association of Ice Industries, the industry was one of the largest industry employers in the country with several 1000 ice companies operating either pulling block ice from the northern lakes and rivers or in the early stages of mechanically produced block ice. Then mechanically produced ice gained popularity due to concerns of the quality and safety of the natural ice pulled from lakes and rivers. Ultimately the association changed its name to the National Ice Association in 1958 and then the Packaged Ice Association in 1971 to reflect the primary product of that time period…. Blocks and now cubes of ice were sold packaged. The name change to the International Packaged Ice Association in 1998 reflected the growing packaged ice industry worldwide and an association to represent the producers and suppliers across the globe. Through the many ups and downs of 100 years, the association has evolved and survived in an amazingly strong manner.

Today, the IPIA represents over 400 ice producers and distributors worldwide, a number that is a fraction compared to hundred years ago. But, we are a different industry now:

  • Ice is a Food! This hasn’t always been the case as viewed by food inspectors, academia and government. The IPIA developed in 2000 its proprietary PIQCS, Packaged Ice Quality Control Standards, program. PIQCS audits, mandatory for IPIA members has changed the way packaged ice is viewed.
  • The average size of ice companies has increased with close to 100 daily tons of production the norm in the northern markets of North America and in the warmer climates some plants are as large as 600 tons of daily production. The IPIA represents 80% of all wholesale packaged ice produced in North America
  • Years of consolidation in the industry has resulted in more central plants feeding distribution centers or plants delivering product to retailers over a greater radius or expanded market geographically. However, since service is a primary determinant of a company’s loyal or un-loyal customer base, new entrants can challenge some markets. The IPIA represents the majority of the large, small, new or not so new ice producers in North America.
  • More outside and complex forces playing a larger role in the conduct and style of running the ice business (governmental, legal, environmental, labor & political). New governmental regulation on trucks, refrigerants, forklifts, etc. which is why the IPIA maintains an active Public Affairs presence.
  • Consumption (vs. used for cooling) of packaged ice is rising. Estimates now are a 50-50 ratio. IPIA’s food safety awareness program has contributed to this rise in consumption. Consumers value food safety and see IPIA member produced ice as a safer alternative to home freezer ice or to other packaged ice sold without the IPIA logo. Look for the Logo is our motto.
  • Some convenience stores engage in on-site packaged ice production and there are a few thousand coin-operated ice vending machines that produce the ice as well. The IPIA continues its advocacy program for food safety standards for ALL manufacturers of packaged ice including retail and wholesale.
  • Best practices are important for IPIA member ice companies and their staff, whether it’s training on food safety or investing in automation for efficiencies.
  • Americans love their ice, but it hasn’t always been so in other countries. This is changing though, thus the continuing increase in packaged ice producers worldwide. IPIA is proud to represent some of these producers and those that believe in and practice food safety standards for their ice products.

Congratulations IPIA for turning 100 and best wishes for many more years representing clean, clear, safe ice!