Ice cream consumption continues to increase, as do the reasons it increases. During the pandemic, with people looking for anything to assuage them during the confusing times of Covid, comfort foods like ice cream sales increased. And as the pandemic wound down, millions of people who had either ventured back to ice cream or continued enjoying it now found—and demanded–new reasons to keep up the growth. With growth comes an increased demand for dairy and related aspects of the category, including supply and delivery.
Some of those reasons ice cream continues to be popular include focus on adding health-aware emphasis, flavor innovation, and new “delivery” channels like new stores and partnerships.
Mintel, a market intelligence firm, reports says in Dairy Foods.com, “One way to tempt health-focused consumers is for brands to create a space for permissible indulgence. For example, by using ‘real, simple ingredients,’ brands could create a health halo for their ice cream products — and make premium claims.”
Most would stop short of saying ice cream is or can be good for you. We are seeing it can be better for you. Healthier ingredients and carb-control frozen dairy products are claiming shelf space almost weekly. Additionally, portion control has created more products. This appeals to a wider range of consumers and to consumers’ comfort with those permissible indulgences.
Grand View Research (as found here in storebrands.com) also sees premium and new flavors as some of the leading factors in this growth, “The growth is attributed to the rising demand for premium ice cream products. The manufacturers in the foodservice sector are incorporating a variety of ice cream flavors and products into their menus to cater to a larger customer base.”
For variety, brands all over are adding new approaches and new styles. Ben & Jerry’s now has a new Topped line that includes layers within and at the top of its pints. There is a little retro theme afoot, too, including Hudsonville Ice Cream’s line of flavors inspired by Little Debbie snack cakes (Dairyfoods.com)
“Here we have all this growth—great for a dairy industry in need of it,” Scott Hoff of MRV Dairy Solutions explains. “Dairy processing plant closures and consolidation are putting added pressure on the cream supply and reduction in competition. Yet the popularity of functional ice cream, such as low sugar & high protein and new flavors, is requiring manufacturers to invest in ingredients specific to support these products.”
It’s not just at the grocery store where we see these new varieties. New stores with emerging frozen dairy treat products continue to pop up across America and Abdulrahman Seleem, owner of Rolls Ice Cream in Laguna Hills, CA, has seen the same growth and challenges. “While the trend might have really started maybe five-plus years ago, we are adding experience to ice cream consumption,” Seleem says. “Customers say it tastes fresher and the unlimited toppings are always appreciated, but they also come to Rolls to have fun and enjoy. They can view the ice pan and watch the servers make your food or play games or the kids get stickers.
“Ice cream has been around for ages, but ice cream is generally ice cream, although we do have unique ingredients to make the products fresher, and now they come here to be a part of something fun and unique. But we also go to them, with delivery and even catering and community events where we’ll bring our machines to schools and city events and show kids how to make their own ice cream.”
That has proven to be a recurring theme. The frozen dairy treat category continues to grow. The businesses that effectively handle and manage these dynamics, especially those related to product accessibility, availability, and creativity, will be the ones leading and enjoying the continued growth.