UK: Ice Cream Dominates Innovation

ice cream

Ice cream and desserts exerts a strong influence on new product development in the frozen foods space in the UK & Ireland, while frozen fruit and vegetables are being reinvented to cater to changing dietary trends, Gama’s latest research reveals.

By Tom Warden, editorial director, Gama.

From an NPD perspective, the frozen food sector in the British Isles is largely dominated by ‘big hitters’ such as Nomad Foods in categories such as ready meals and frozen fish, and Unilever, R&R and Mars in ice cream. Increasingly, however, leading retailers such as Tesco, Morrisons and Asda are focusing investment on their own private label brands, expanding their offering across the full spectrum of.

While frozen products are not insignificant in product launch terms– representing 11.7% of all food launches in the UK and Ireland since 2014, according to Gama Compass – NPD in the sector still lags way behind chilled food, which accounted for 26.6% of all food launches over the same timeframe, compared to 23.3% globally. In a market where ‘fresh is king’, frozen food manufacturers have needed to invest in continual renewal to remain relevant to modern consumers, largely by emphasizing quality and luxury, as well as by aligning to modern dietary trends and food fashions.

Targeting ‘decadence’

By far the largest contributor to frozen food NPD in UK & Ireland since 2014 has been ice cream & desserts, representing 47.2% of launches compared to a global average of 42.1%, and more than twice as well represented as the next nearest category across the two countries.

Driving this frenetic activity is a conspicuous demand for ‘ultra-indulgence’, manifested in launches that ‘go to town’ on rich flavors in increasingly decadent combinations. Hence, Asda, for instance, has launched ice cream brands such as Ripplelicious, Really Creamy and Loaded,  in the latter case featuring varieties such as Mallow Mayhem (“marshmallow flavor ice cream swirled with marshmallow flavor sauce, mini marshmallows and white chocolate chunks”) and Gingerbread Fudge (“gorgeous gingerbread flavor ice cream rippled with toffee sauce, gingerbread and sweet fudge nuggets”). Rival retailer Tesco has pursued a similar path, updating its ice cream range to include extra-rich varieties such as Triple Chocolate and White Chocolate & Raspberry.

The complete version of this article is available in the July-August print issue of Frozen Food Europe.