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Indulgent & unusual combine to drive interest in ice cream

13 April, 2011

New product activity levels in the ice cream market are continuing to grow globally, with over 3,300 launches recorded on the Innova Database in 2010.

This is well up on 2009 levels, which in turn increased over 2008 and 2007 totals (  The majority of these introductions (over 80%) were take-home lines, with single-serve impulse products accounting for the remainder. 

Europe led launch activity, accounting for nearly 40% of the total, followed by the USA with just over 30%.  While per capita consumption of ice cream is much higher in the USA than in Europe, at over 10 litres, compared with an average of closer to 7 litres in Western Europe and 3 litres in Eastern Europe, the greater number of countries and companies has kept levels of innovation relatively high. 

The highest per capita levels globally are actually found in Australia and New Zealand, at about 12 litres, but the small population of the countries and the relatively few companies in the market mean that launch activity is more limited there at less than 5% of the global total.

As spring starts to make itself felt in Europe and the USA, an increasing number of new ice cream products are starting to appear in readiness for the warmer weather. Innova has already recorded over 650 introductions globally in the first three months of 2011, representing a double-digit increase over the same period in 2010.

The ice cream market has always been one that has been problematic to develop because of its seasonality and weather dependency. These factors still tend to dictate sector performance overall despite ongoing supplier initiatives to increase and extend consumption occasions. In an era of rising basic raw material prices, including those for milk, cocoa and sugar, the need to add value has never been more acute. 

Flavour innovation, supported by technological advances, allowing more complex flavour and texture combinations, appears to be continuing unabated.  This is an increasingly competitive marketplace dominated by fewer, larger players, who need to offer something new to maintain interest in the market overall and in existing brands. 

Limited edition products offer the ideal opportunity to try new, indulgent and perhaps more unusual flavour options alongside more traditional and classical variants. 

Thus a review of launch activity on the Innova Database over the past few months shows multinational Unilever further developing its Magnum handheld range and its Carte d’Or premium tubs range, with launches across a number of countries. 

Magnum has seen the appearance and development of a Magnum Minis indulgent ice cream snacks sub-brand, as well as the Magnum Temptations super-premium range, Magnum Gold with caramel and Magnum Ecuador and Ghana, made with cocoa from the named country.  

The Carte d’Or premium tub range has continued to see new and increasingly exotic flavour variants, including limited editions, with Macadamia Nights and Cherry Blossom added to the UK range for 2011.

In Germany, the range goes under the Cremissimo brand name, with the 2011 introduction being called Sternstunde, but still featuring white and dark chocolate stars, macadamia nut and praline ice cream and a chocolate sauce.

Activity in other premium multinational brands has included Häagen-Dazs’ introduction of its Sweet Sensations dessert-flavoured ice creams in a number of countries and Ben & Jerry’s continued extension of its portfolio of unusual and indulgent flavour variants.

Nestlé announced its new season flavours for 2011 for its Mövenpick super premium ice cream brand in March, highlighting two very exotic recipes – Asian Black Leaf Lychee & Rose and Provence Lavender Honey & Violet in its Creation range, as well as Coconut & Lemongrass as its summer limited edition flavour.

Lu Ann Williams, Research Manager for Innova Market Insights summarises: "Within such a large market, even one so weather dependent, innovation is obviously highly important, and the key trend emerging on a global scale in recent years has almost certainly been the rising popularity of luxury and premium lines for consumption as indulgent snacks or treats. The economic situation of the past few years has proved challenging for this trend in some instances."

"This move to premium products has also been closely associated with developments in flavourings, which have also become increasingly indulgent, complex and exotic in line with rising consumer desires and expectations."

Source: Innova