In this discussion I had with the Ice Cream Alliance (ICA) CEO Zelica Carr, we talked about artisanal products vs. mass produced ice cream, but also about trends and consumer preferences, all of which I have detailed below.
By Dan Orehov
How would you describe the current scene for ice cream products in the UK?
Very positive – consumers are more discerning and demanding in terms of quality and choice leading to an explosion in the development of a number of different flavors. A quality product will command a much higher price than a low-quality product. What does that mean in pounds? The total UK ice cream market was estimated to be worth GBP1bn back in 2016 – but the latest figures from Mintel for 2018 has increased that value to GBP1.4bn – that’s a 40% rise. In the UK sales are very much affected by weather. We had a long heatwave in 2018 – and its obviously too early to say what the weather will be like in 2019. According to Partners for Growth (an independent retailers’ consultancy) good weather can boost ice cream sales by 400%.
In your view what are the main challenges for companies to sustain their growth in this segment?
Flavor-wise, whilst Vanilla will always be in high demand, it needs to be consistently high quality which is why so much emphasis is put on this flavor in the National Ice Cream Competition. Vanilla was our National Champion this year beating all other flavors. Vanilla is also the base for other flavors so growth will arise from having an excellent vanilla ice cream. The other challenges are around reacting to trends and consumer demand. For instance, in the UK we have seen a massive rise in the consumption of vegan foods – in 2018 the UK launched more vegan products than any other country according to Mintel. So, we have seen launches such as the vegan Magnum which was one of the products featured at our recent Ice Cream and Gelato Expo in Harrogate last month. Smaller artisan producers are also featuring vegan based recipes and flavors.
To read the complete interview, please refer to the May-June 2019 print issue of Frozen Food Magazine Europe.