Due to the global pandemic, life hasn’t felt the same since March 2020. Masks, lockdown, social distancing and a sanitised society are all part of our daily routines, and even though they bring us down from time to time, there is nothing like a scoop of ice cream as a little treat to brighten our day. According to IRI’s Shopper Panel data, total ice cream sales increased 14.4% in the latest 52weeks, with 93.5% of households engaging at least once with the category. Due to this growing demand, ice cream manufacturers have been launching new products to stand out from the crowd creating exciting trends.
Vegan ice cream
Non-dairy and plant-based ingredients are popping up everywhere; this new trend isn’t just for people with lactose intolerance or a special diet anymore, it is also made for customers who are making a conscious or social decision not to consume animal-derived ingredients. Coconut milk, almond milk and oat milk-based ice cream are commonly seen in the supermarket’s freezer. Most of the grocery retailers has even set up a dedicated Dairy Free section aiming to unlock even further growth leveraging the increasing demand.
Aside from supporting environmentally friendly ingredients, plant-based claims hint at natural health credentials such as the use of organic and raw ingredients with added macronutrients like probiotics, protein, fibre, etc. For instance, FroPro the Fit Scoop with high protein is easily spotted in the freezer aisle.
From small brands offering vegan options such as Pana Organic Dairy Free and Tilly’s Oat Milk Ice Cream to larger brands offering non-dairy versions of their classic flavours such as Bulla Nut Free & Gluten Free Vanilla Ice Cream and Connoisseur Plant-Based series, this trend has helped manufacturers build up an environmentally friendly, natural and healthy image attracting the attention of newer generations willing to pay a premium for products that align with their beliefs.
Consumers tend to be attracted to ‘Limited Time Offers’ such as the small-batch or artisanally made products which can often be perceived as more premium and exclusive. Larger manufacturers are introducing products in collaboration with gourmet brands, such as Peters collaboration with Messina for the Gelato Bar enticing consumers to try the unique ice cream while they can, leveraging the burning ‘fear of missing out’ sensation. Small manufacturers like Denada and Gundowring Finest with artisanal offerings will also benefit from this trend as customers are likely to increase their support for local and small businesses.
Premiumisation with sophisticated flavour
Innovative and premium ice creams continue to be a gastronomic trend that is continuously showcased in all major cooking shows and social media platforms; generating significant engagement with the public and also, attracting the interest of manufacturers that see an opportunity to get their ‘piece of the cake’ of this segment by launching premium references with fine ingredients, aiming at those consumers demanding unique, refined and complex flavours. These sophisticated recipes might include florals, exotic fruits, alcohol, bold spices and Australian native ingredients, for example, Davidson Plums and Wattleseed, Hinterland Golden Jersey Caramel Macadamia and Magnum Luxe Ruby Raspberry. As consumers are becoming more and more price-sensitive, these stylish approaches to flavour profile help manufacturers justify a premium price point.
Overall, these trends have allowed manufacturers within the category to create new and more valuable market niches, find different consumption occasions and continue to drive growth in an already heavily penetrated industry. They also show how manufacturers from all sizes are able to adapt to unprecedented changes in customer behaviour by turning potential threats into growth opportunities, where no longer the big eat the small, but the fast outpaces the slow. Something that all players in these sectors will need to reflect on, as they will need to be able to cope with a fluid environment, reacting quickly to the constant behavioural changes and having a proactive approach to the needs of newer generations for them to continue finding growth opportunities in an already growing market.