Ice cream still a favourite but consumers warm to healthy alternatives

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 14th July 2008

Ice cream remains a favourite cool treat amongst consumers despite increased competition from products like frozen yoghurt.

According to new consumer research from Mintel, nine in ten Americans (89%) enjoyed a cool, creamy scoop in the past year. In comparison, only three
in five (59%) ate novelties such as ice cream sandwiches or bars, while just over a third ate sherbet or frozen yogurt (37% and 34%, respectively).

Ice cream’s familiarity to consumers is a key driver of consistent sales of the product, while innovation in the sector offers sound growth prospects. “Ice cream remains one of America’s favorite treats,” states David Morris, senior analyst at Mintel. “Slow churn and super-premium innovations have brought exciting new variety to the taste and texture people know and love.”

In 2007, ice cream accounted for nearly 60% of total sales from frozen desserts. Frozen novelties made up over a third of sales (36%), while sherbet and frozen yogurt accounted for a mere 5%.

Behind those figures, however, it seems people may be cooling towards old-fashioned ice cream. Despite ice cream sales dominating the market in 2007, sales figures were 3.9% lower than 2002 due to the growth in frozen novelties of 7.2% in the same time period. “Convenience and healthy eating trends drive more people to frozen novelties to satisfy cravings,” comments Morris. “These products are portable and portion-controlled. Plus, rapid new product development is giving consumers many new frozen novelty dessert choices.”

Morris believes that frozen novelties may be the key to continued success. “With today’s health-conscious consumer looking for a balance between nutrition and indulgence, options such as light, portion-controlled ice cream bars or lower calorie frozen yogurt are sure to resonate,” he advised.

Mintel forecasts the market for ice cream, frozen novelties, sherbet and frozen yogurt through all retail channels to grow 15% from 2008 to 2012.