Top 10 Trends to Watch in Ice Cream
when it comes to ice cream new product development.
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.
The claim “Low Calorie” is among the top 5 claims on new ice cream product launches in North America4.
A great example of this trend is the immensely successful brand Halo Top, which saw a 462% compound annual growth rate 2013- 20183.
Ditch The Dairy
Ice creams without dairy ingredients aren’t just for the lactose intolerant anymore. 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:
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.
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!
When asked what types of innovations they would like to see in ice cream, 57% said Indulgent Mix ins and 38% of US consumers agree that they would pay more for indulgent options2.
JoJo’s Milk Bar in Chicago offers their take on a loaded ‘freakshake’.
Flavor Mix and Mash Ups
Consumers are interested in flavor mashups in their ice creams and brands are offering options to meet their needs. When asked what types of innovations they would like to see in ice cream, 47% of consumers said ‘flavor combinations’2.
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.
47% of regular ice cream consumers have a favorable perception of a product that is "customized/ personalized"5.
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 NRA asked chefs for the trending snacks and sweets for 2019 and Thai rolled ice cream was named the top sweet item6. Other ways to offering customizable dipped and topped ice cream bars, like at Gordo’s Ice Cream in Chicago.