Ice Cream Innovations Bring a New Twist to Savory Applications

With National Ice Cream Day fast approaching, we are eager to reflect on its origins and look ahead to see what innovations and trends are capturing consumers’ attention.

National Ice Cream Day is perfect for heading to your favorite scoop shop or exploring the freezer aisle for an exciting new pint. This sweet holiday also celebrates longstanding family-owned creameries and ice cream’s contributions to the dairy industry and the economy. According to the International Dairy Foods Association, ice cream contributes $13 billion to the national economy and offers nearly 29,000 jobs, generating $1.8 billion in direct wages. Since ice cream is such a beloved treat and a major industry contributor, years ago, someone thought it was about time that an official day was named to celebrate it.

We can thank former President Ronald Reagan for instating this delicious day in 1984. He designated that the third Sunday in July each year would be National Ice Cream Day. In his proclamation, he stated, “Ice cream is a nutritious and wholesome food, enjoyed by over ninety percent of the people in the United States. It enjoys a reputation as the perfect dessert and snack food.” We think it’s the perfect dessert too! 

When looking for ways to innovate in this established category, inspiration is everywhere, from experimental menu items to social media. Fantastical flavors are the perfect way to engage consumers looking for something new from this age-old treat. In the restaurant space, according to Eater, some chefs are looking to take savory ice creams with flavors such as tomato and cacio e pepe to the next level by giving them staying power on the menu. In savory meals, ice cream takes on the role of a palette agent, adding a similar creaminess to dishes that an egg-based sauce offers. For artisan ice cream shops, some recent developments include going beyond standard citrus flavors in favor of stand-outs like yuzu and even savory applications, with some shops finding inspiration in staples such as balsamic and the Everything bagel. Consumers looking to make the frozen treat their own at home have shared techniques such as drizzling soy sauce or sprinkling chili crisp on their scoops.

Expanding on consumer desires for personalization, an ice cream company in Thailand created an array of flavors inspired by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The MBTI is a personality assessment that helps participants better understand themselves based on answers to various questions. Given their unique results, consumers can select certain flavors that match their personality type. Mintel highlights that although the flavors may not be perfectly tailored to each individual, it adds a level of novelty and excitement to selecting a flavor, adding value for the consumer. 

Consumers do not want to compromise on key attributes when it comes to non-dairy versions of frozen treats. In fact, 31% of US consumers who purchase frozen treats desire the same level of indulgence from both non-dairy and dairy products. A desire to reach new levels of indulgence has inspired a rise in cross-category influence within the space, from beverages, to bakery and beyond. Consumers are eager to treat themselves and according to Mintel, there has been an 8% increase from last year in non-dairy ice cream launches inspired by bakery items. Creative launches offer inspiration for further cross-category collaboration in this space. Recently, one business debuted its vegan ice cream product sandwiched between gluten-free cookies. These decadent ice cream sandwiches ensure those with dietary preferences and restrictions can satisfy their sweet tooth. One baking business even teamed up with a non-dairy ice cream company to add vegan ice cream cakes to their product line. 

What was once viewed as simply a dairy alternative dessert has transformed into a thriving subset of the frozen dessert category with endless ways to innovate. When a vegan ice cream delivers delectable quality, it becomes a dessert that anyone can enjoy, whether out of necessity, preference, or curiosity. At Sensient, we provide taste technologies to ensure that plant-based ice creams deliver on this promise of indulgence through a pleasing creamy texture. 

There are plenty of ways to innovate in the ice cream space with ingredients, flavors, partnerships, and more! Whether that be playing with color, textured inclusions, or flavorful swirls, at Sensient, we offer the tools and sensory solutions needed to help you create the ice cream of your dreams. Let’s be taste buds!