Industry News | September 8, 2012

Ice Cream Makes A Comeback in US, Abroad

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It’s been a hot summer, and what’s better to cool people off than ice cream?

And it appears that the market for ice cream in America has got it licked. According to recent Mintel research, in 2011, the ice cream and frozen novelty market emerged from two years of struggling sales and posted a 4.1 percent increase over the previous year (retail sales of $10.7 billion) and is poised for continued growth of another 4 percent in 2012.

“Aside from the flavor of frozen treats, price is the key factor in a consumer’s decision on what to purchase,” says John N. Frank, Mintel food and drink analyst. “Price is more important than brand, quality, and health information, which makes it difficult for brands to break away from a price promotion strategy, but does give private label products a major opportunity for growth.”

When buying ice cream or other frozen novelties, 94 percent of people say they base their decision on flavor, while 83 percent look at price and 72 percent look for a sale or promotion.

When it comes to brand loyalty, slightly more than two-thirds (68 percent) of respondents make their selections based on brand alone. 

Frank says new product development will play a large role in the continued success of the ice cream market in the coming years. New flavor profiles and ingredients, better-for-you (BFY) products, and new packaging concepts will be instrumental in its success.

The popularity of Greek yogurt spilling over into the ice cream and frozen novelty market could be one reason that total U.S. retail sales of frozen yogurt were up 9.7 percent from 2011 to 2012.

It demonstrates the highest growth percentage of the four ice cream and frozen novelty segments. 

Not surprisingly, reduced fat (38 percent), reduced sugar (38 percent), and reduced calorie (36 percent) are the most important claims consumers are looking for on the packaging of their favorite frozen treat.

However, gluten-free and dairy-free products are rapidly growing in popularity, with 14 percent and 15 percent of Mintel respondents saying they are “very or somewhat important” to them.

Container, or serving size, is important to 69 percent of survey respondents who buy frozen treats, and especially so among those aged 18–24 (74 percent), who are the most likely to eat it away from the home directly after purchasing it from the grocery or convenience store.

Portion control containers would also fare well with those concerned about ‘low-in’ claims.

Globally, it is Norway that spends the most per head on ice cream at £33 per head, closely followed by Australia (£30 per head), Switzerland (£25 per head), and Sweden and Finland (£24 per head respectively).  

The U.K. ranks in 10th place with £17 per head spend.

However, in terms of who is eating the most, the U.S. tops the list, with 17 liters per head, way ahead of its nearest competitors—Australia with 10.3 liters per head and Norway at 10.2.  

Sweden (8 liters per head) and Denmark (7 liters per head) make up the remaining top five. Again, the U.K. scrapes into the top 10 in 10th position at 6 liters per head.

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