Ice Cream Trends Move Towards Conscious Indulgence

It is a well-known fact that nearly all consumers purchase ice cream. Per capita consumption of ice cream in EMEA is around 4.6kg, and expected to grow. Thanks to consumers’ passion for ice cream, the product category in EMEA is slated to grow by 2.1% CAGR by 2021.

By Dan Orehov

Some of the trendiest options available on the global market today include examples such as lactose-free ice cream, low-calorie options and small-batch craft products. In fact, Barry Callebaut believes there are several trends that are driving many new and innovative ice cream products into the marketplace:

  • Calorie Conscious Options: consumers can feel less guilty when they indulge with low calorie ice cream options. Calorie counts on ice cream products riding this trend are appearing in large font on the front of the package. A great example of this trend is the successful brand Halo Top, which saw a 462% compound annual growth rate 2013- 2018.
  • Ditch the Dairy: ice creams without dairy ingredients aren’t just for the lactose intolerant anymore. 17% of adults in the UK said they avoid dairy; and 11% said they have eaten non-dairy ice cream in the last 3 months. For those looking for variety or following a special diet, there are more non-dairy ice creams and frozen treats available than ever before and they taste better, too! From small brands offering vegan options to larger brands offering non-dairy versions of their classic flavors, there is no shortage of dairy free options in the ice cream aisle. Some replacements for dairy bases include coconut milk, almond milk and oat milk.
  • Added Functional Benefits: in today’s market, it’s not uncommon to see consumers turning to foods in many categories for functional benefits and added goodness. Added functional ingredients in ice cream can include: probiotics, protein, fiber, CBD. Now ice cream can offer indulgence and an added sense of well-being. One interesting example is Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream’s Vegan Couch Potato which contains approximately 5 milligrams of CBD in each scoop.
  • Loaded Indulgences: for those who are only concerned with the indulgent side of ice cream, brands and operators are loading on the good stuff. Ice cream is meant to be a treat, after all, so added indulgence in the form of layers, textures, toppings and fillings is a welcome addition.
  • Flavor Mix and Mash Ups: consumers are interested in flavor mashups in their ice creams and brands are offering options to meet their needs. Exciting new flavors can be achieved through cross category innovation (bringing confection or bakery into ice cream) or bringing multiple brands together like the Breyers 2in1 products.
  • Sophisticated Flavor Profiles: ice cream makers have begun appealing to more mature palates with flavors that are unique, refined and complex. These flavors tend to appear more in small brands and include more premium ingredients. Some of these flavors might include ethnic flavors, alcohol, tea or spices. Pair these sophisticated ice cream flavors with the familiar favorites (like chocolate) for a premium flavor experience. The brand Humphry Slocombe does this well by offering Turmeric-infused Honey Milk ice cream with Chocolate Chip Gingerbread and Candied Ginger.
  • Bring in Savory or Salty Flavors: look outside “sweet treats” for a unique flavor innovation that pushes boundaries for adventurous consumers. Potato chips, French fries, salty pretzels add unique texture and sensory experiences. For funkier flavors, add blue cheese, foie gras, avocado or corn. Betty Rae’s Ice Cream in Kansas offered a limited-edition ice cream striped with a caramel made of Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que’s original sauce and candied pieces of burnt ends brisket swirled in.
  • Craft and Small Batch: as with other product categories, a product that is craft or small batch has an exclusive feel and positioning to entice consumers to try this special product while they can. These products can often be perceived as more premium. Limited Time Offers fit into this category too. Anything that might create a sense of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) in consumers.
  • A Snacking Revolution: consumers are snacking more than ever before and snacking can fit any category or day part. When it comes to ice cream, handheld snacks are no longer just ice cream bars; innovations in shape, size and portability are making snacking on ice cream easier than ever.
  • Customization: 47% of regular ice cream consumers have a favorable perception of a product that is “customized/ personalized”. Consumer interest in customized treats is being addressed at ice cream shops around the country as innovators are taking a new approach that differentiates themselves. The National Restaurant Association asked chefs what they thought would be the trending snacks and sweets in 2019 and Thai rolled ice cream was named the top sweet item. Gordo’s Ice Cream in Chicago has found another way to customize with their personalized dipped and topped bars.

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