Photo/IllutrationWinter sales have been strong for Rakuou Cafe au Lait Ice Cream produced in Fukushima Prefecture. (Mana Nagano)

KORIYAMA, Fukushima Prefecture--A dairy company here that has withstood fears and rumors about radiation has produced a hot-selling item in the middle of winter.

Within two weeks in November, the initial 6,000 cups of Rakuou Cafe au Lait Ice Cream, produced by Rakuounyugyou Co. in Koriyama, were nearly sold out.

The company, founded in 1975, shipped out an additional lot of around 18,000 cups in December, but this supply has also run short.

Rakuounyugyou shipped 25,000 more cups, mostly to outlets in Fukushima Prefecture, in mid-January, and plans to ship an additional 24,000 within this month.

“Perhaps our ice cream is being seen as more of a premium product,” a sales official at the company said.

Rakuounyugyou’s Rakuou Cafe au Lait, a mild-flavored lactic drink containing at least 50 percent raw milk from Fukushima Prefecture, has an entrenched fan base both in and outside the prefecture.

The company maintained its sales levels in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, while its competitors suffered losses due to radiation fears and rumors among the public.

Rakuounyugyou developed the ice cream product to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the release of Rakuou Cafe au Lait. The ice cream contains at least 10 percent Rakuou Cafe au Lait and at least 10 percent milk.

“We exercised trial and error because we absolutely didn’t want to disappoint fans of our Cafe au Lait,” the sales official said.

The ice cream was initially sold mainly at sightseeing facilities and expressway service areas in Fukushima Prefecture. Demand was high even though the company did little in the way of a sales campaign.

The spreading popularity of the product can be attributed to Twitter.

Tweets about the ice cream can sound like a hunt for a rare Pokemon on the “Pokemon Go” game app.

“Where could I get one?” one post said. “I got one!” said another.

It is not the first time the social networking service has helped the dairy company; tweets of encouragement spread in the aftermath of the nuclear disaster.

“Be what may, the Rakuou Cafe au Lait tastes so good,” said one particularly popular tweet at that time.

Cafe au Lait is being shipped to a growing number of retailers, most of them in the greater Tokyo area. Sales of the product are up 10 percent from pre-disaster levels.

“Word of our ice cream has also been spread by our fans,” the sales official said. “We are so grateful that we are reduced to tears.”