Who doesn’t want to relish their taste buds with ice-cream every now and them? Being one of the most loved desserts among consumers, ice-cream has undergone major changes ever since its evolution. Discoveries in science and consumer have enabled manufacturers to innovate and introduce new varieties of ice cream with creative flavors and smooth textures. As consumers are becoming more health-conscious, ice cream brands are coming up with diverse options that are low-fat and sugar-free without compromising on the delightful taste.
Thanks to the consumer passion for ice-cream, the global ice cream market is thriving, and the product category is expected to cross USD120 billion by 2028. Sales in North America, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) exceeds USD12 billion annually, with new and innovative product categories accounting for a significant share compared to other conventional ones. Rising consumer spending on unique product variants and adoption of modern technologies like Ice Cream Shop POS systems are some of the factors fueling the growth of global ice-cream market.
To accommodate the evolving taste of consumers, ice-cream brands are redefining the norms and reimagining takes on classics. Here are some of the top innovations in the ice-cream industry that are influencing the industry and contributing to the market’s growth.
Premiumization of Ice-Cream Products
Ice cream brands are rethinking consumer segmentation to keep pace in dynamic marketplaces where consumer shopping preferences and sentiments are constantly shifting. In recent years, rising demand from customers for healthier and functional foods have resulted into the production of ice-creams containing ingredients such as probiotics, prebiotics, and natural antioxidants. Premium and super premium ice-creams account for nearly 90% of all ice cream sold in the United States owing to low-carb or low fat ingredients in those varieties. In Europe, consumer associate premium ice cream with natural and authentic ingredients that are responsibly sourced. Besides, consumers are opting for flavors that intrigue them or offer an exciting experience, presenting an opportunity for brands to capitalize on the demand for high-end products. According to research, the average price per 100 g ice cream has accelerated by 23% over the last five years, far outstripping than other food product categories. Increasing number of artisanal ice cream shops across the world are likely to fuel the growth of premium ice creams in the coming years. In January 2022, Unilever introduced vegan stick bars, magnum vegan classic, and magnum vegan almond to provide more option of ice creams to the vegan population. Another popular ice-cream brand Ben & Jerry are looking forward to creating CBD-based ice creams to meet the growing demand for cannabis products.
Inventive Savoury Ice-Cream Flavors
For people looking outside of “sweet treats” for a unique flavor, ice cream brands are pushing boundaries and working to make even more luxurious ice creams with inventive flavors for adventurous consumers. Due to the introduction of savoury flavours like beetroot, basil, and olive oil, ice cream could now consumers as a starter rather than your dessert or even swap places with your beverage at the bar: A Mojito-flavored variety from UK-based “Cheers Ice Cream” boasts an ABV of 8.4%, which can even consumers feel drunk. Adding too much alcohol makes the ice cream freeze more slowly and inculcate a richer texture. Betty Rae’s Ice Cream offers ice cream striped with a caramel made of sauce and candied pieces of burnt ends briskets, which is a hit among consumers. Besides, ice cream manufacturers are also incorporating potato chips, French fries, salty Pretzels, blue cheese, foie gras, avocado, corn, etc.
Transportive Ice-Cream Flavors
Ice cream brands are enticing travel-deficient consumers with transportive ice cream flavors, introducing exotic global flavors that evoke far-off lands. In response to the travel restriction imposed on consumers, Magnum Australia launched a Destinations range, comprising of four ice creams inspired by flavors from Tahiti, Las Vegas, New York, and Amsterdam. Some brands are also adding fragrance that evoke thoughts of the scent of a particular food from the region for aiding emotional well-being. For enhanced transportive ice cream experience, consumers are being presented imaginative and creative packaging visuals.
Mess-Free Ice Creams
One of the common pain points of every consumer with ice cream is that they melt really fast. Although manufacturers have tried to address this issue by putting chocolate coatings on the outside by adding emulsifiers or stabilizers, nothing could really prevent ice cream from reducing the mess without compromising the flavor. However, modern technologies are enabling ice cream brands to slow down the melting process of ice creams to give consumers a mess-free ice cream experience. Zhong Xue Gao, a luxury ice cream brand in China has launched a new ice cream that does not melt, even with direct contact with a flame. In fact, the ice cream produces smoke when it comes in direct contact with the flame. Some Japanese scientists have also stumbled upon a compound found in strawberries that has the power to keep the ice-cream frozen even in hot sun. The ice-cream is being sold under the name of Kanazawa Ice, which has been made by the Biotherapy Development Research Center Co. using a polyphenol liquid extracted from strawberries.
As the vegan population is expanding at a rapid pace, ice creams brands are innovating new plant-based and dairy-free ice cream flavors to tap the potential demographics. From big ice-cream brands to startups, everyone has been hooked on the vegan trend and launching new flavors to keep up with the consumers’ evolving expectations. In some parts of Brooklyn, sales of vegan ice-creams are actually outnumbering the conventional ice-creams made with cow’s milk. Enhanced taste and texture are making non-dairy options a hit among consumers. Besides, they are readily available and popular than ever before. The vegan ice-cream market has registered a 300% increase since 2018. Moreover, as people are becoming increasingly conscious regarding their health and environment, they are switching to dairy-free varieties that are as creamy and delicious as the conventional ones. Many new brands have emerged in recent years that are offering vegan ice-creams using plant milks, including cashew, oat, hemp, and others. Research institutions are discovering new dairy-free sources, which could provide market players opportunities to innovate and offer more varieties to vegan and vegetarian populations. Marketing and endorsements by celebrities are also helping vegan ice-cream brands to grow significantly.
Ice-creams will always remain a timeless treat for all ages. As consumers are increasingly becoming aware of the origins of the ice-cream ingredients, the brands will have to reinforce their sustainable initiatives, keeping into consideration the packaging and distribution aspects along with the sourcing of the ingredients and waste management. Moreover, previously consumers were satisfied with some mixed and blended stuff, but now they want to see big chunks of almonds, huge blocks of strawberries and the technology to drive these inclusions is moving at a pace. In the coming years, more such ice-cream innovations are expected to outpace the conventional flavors, texture, and packaging, which can positively influence the growth of ice-cream market in the coming years.