Ice cream market moves to healthier choices

Pleasure is still the driving force behind ice cream purchases, with consumers naming its taste, the fact that it’s a treat and makes people feel happy as the top three reasons for buying it. In the contemporary consumer environment, however, the balance between health and indulgence is increasingly important and a new report from Innova Market Insights highlights the ice cream category’s growing focus on delivering pleasure without the guilt.

As far as the key macronutrients are concerned, for example, the focus within ice cream development is clearly shifting from fat to sugar. Through 2015-2019, global launches of low sugar ice creams increased at a CAGR of 48%. In contrast, launches of low/no/reduced fat ice creams dropped at a CAGR of 12% over the same period.

The non-dairy movement is also impacting on innovation as significantly growing numbers of consumers explore plant-based eating. “Non-dairy ice creams tripled their share of total ice cream launches in North America between 2015 and 2019, reaching a significant figure of 18% penetration,” reports Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights. “Meanwhile, Australasia and West Europe are other important stamping grounds with 15% and 9% non-dairy penetration, respectively.”

Even within these healthier categories, however, indulgence is never far away and the idea of ‘permissible indulgence’ is leading to the combination of healthier formulations with decadent tastes. For example, salted caramel is an indulgent flavour that has exploded into the mainstream in recent years. It was ranked as the fifth most popular taste within launch activity in 2019, up 10 places since 2015. However, it is even more popular in helping to deliver an indulgent image to guilt-free products, taking fourth place in non-dairy ice cream launches, third place in low fat ice cream and second place in low sugar NPD.

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