Taste the pioneering spirit of Hokkaido University through ice cream

University News | December 09, 2020

On November 16, 2020, the Hokudai Marche Café & Labo released their newest product: HOKUDAI Clark’s Milk ice cream. Hokudai (北大) is an abbreviation of  Hokkaido University’s Japanese appellation (北海道大学), and Clark comes from the university’s founding father, William S. Clark. This brand-new product is a result of collaboration with Hokkaido University’s researchers and the Shin Dosanko Research Institute of Hokkaido Hakuhodo. Available in 5 different flavors — Hokudai Clark’s Milk, vanilla, raspberry, haskap (honeysuckle), and blueberry — the ice cream is free of additives and uses locally produced ingredients from Hokkaido University’s agricultural research facilities.

HOKUDAI Clark’s Milk ice cream is on sale at Hokudai Marche Café & Labo (Photo: Takafumi Miyawaki)

The main ingredient of the ice cream, the milk, is a local product of Hokkaido University’s      Experiment Farm. Compared to the milk from other manufacturers, the taste of Hokkaido University’s milk is said to be a distinctive feature. Seiji Kondo, Specially Appointed Professor of Hokkaido University’s Graduate School of Agriculture, explained that the reason lies in the type of fodder that the milking cows are consuming.

The majority of the current Japanese farms are using exported grains for livestock fodder. Moreover, the cows’ diets usually consist of 55% grass and the rest are concentrated fodder. However, Hokkaido University takes a different approach. The milking cows of the Experiment Farm are being fed locally produced types of fodder. In summer, the livestock are grazing on the local grass, while in winter they are being fed hay and corn grains. As a result, the seasonal change of the fodder pattern yields different milk components and, consequently, the flavor of the milk changes according to the season.

Hokkaido University’s Experiment Farm No.1 (Photo: Manami Kawamoto)

“Hokkaido University’s milk has a very unique quality that everyone should taste,” said Hokudai Marche Café & Labo manager, Takafumi Miyawaki, during the launch of the product. “We have been creating and selling several products from the milk such as cookies and cheese. But only people living within the vicinity of our store can enjoy them as fresh consumptions. By turning it into ice cream that always stays fresh, we are hoping to reach a wider customer target.”

Apart from the milk, the local appeal of the ice cream is also located in the fruits that are used to add more flavor assortments. The raspberries, haskaps, and blueberries are harvested in another research  field of Hokkaido University: Yoichi Orchard in Yoichi City, Hokkaido. The three types of fruit used for the ice cream went through a cultivation method exclusive to Yoichi Orchard. The raspberries, in particular, were grown from a seed variety developed from a selective breeding experiment carried out by Hokkaido University’s research team. 

Yoichi Orchard (Photo: Takafumi Miyawaki)

“Established in 1912, Yoichi Orchard has a long history, but the aim remains the same,” stated Dr. Yoichiro Hoshino of Hokkaido University’s Field Science Center for Northern Biosphere, the researcher who aided the creation of the HOKUDAI Clark Milk ice cream. “We are conducting varying research activities that could help the local farmers. Even after we have cultivated a good type of fruit, the next thing the farmers should figure out is how to make use of the harvested crops. This type of collaboration is one of the examples.”

All parties involved in the ice cream creation have undergone several stages of trial-and-error before ultimately producing the final good. HOKUDAI CLark’s milk is a manifestation of a collaborative hard work of local people of Hokkaido that embodies the pioneering spirit of Hokkaido University.

Written by Aprilia Agatha Gunawan