Ice Cream Still Standing at the Intersection of “Healthy” and “Indulgence”

Consumers’ love affair with ice cream continues to evolve, and smart manufacturers are tapping into a “better-for-you” yet adventurous mindset to introduce new and reimagined flavors that consumers haven’t seen before.

Despite the world’s changing consumer buying patterns, ice cream demand is evergreen. The sector boasts a projected annual growth of 2.8% from 2020 through 2025, with a $14 billion price tag (split between purchases for in-home and outside consumption).

Many manufacturers continue to produce luxury products because the market for them remains solid. Two-thirds of households recently reported that they would rather eat a small amount of “indulgent” ice cream than a pint of a low-calorie alternative. Conversely, according to Mintel data, a rising number of consumers want to see new inclusions, textures and flavors. Within that sector, plant-based alternatives that target the “better-for-you” shopper have a strong appeal.

What this all means:

  • There’s room for growth in “old school” ice cream categories, like adding an adventurous twist that sparks curiosity. Flavors that are indulgent and more traditional will draw consumers in with familiarity, but the buying power remains with new, adventurous and exciting inclusions and swirls that consumers haven’t seen before that leave them saying “I have to try that!”

  • Lines are blurred between these full indulgent products and alternatives that may offer non-dairy, low calorie, low sugar or high protein.  Though consumers want sweet treats that match their dietary needs and lifestyle choices, taste still remains king. It is more important than ever to ensure these “better-for-you” alternatives still remain delicious and exciting with new flavors and interesting textures.

The result of these varying options opens the door for targeting consumers with new flavors and concepts. Consider these:

  • Banana Caramel Coconut: A tropical spin on the popular dessert Bananas Foster, this flavor brings fruity and indulgent together and offers a unique, chocolate covered coconut flake inclusion to give consumers the crunchy texture they desire.
  • Peanut Butter Caramel Toffee: With a combination of rich and indulgent flavors, mixed with the buttery crunch of toffee, this scoop checks the box of consumers’ demands for interesting textures, indulgent flavors and familiar classics.
  • Caramelized Peach Pecan: With soft and sweet peaches pairing with crunchy candied pecans, toasted, nutty, fruity and decadent come front and center with this cobbler in a cone.

The technologists at Sensient are ready to be your ice cream partners! Get in touch to find out more about our wide and growing portfolio of inclusions, variegates, flavors, extracts and taste technologies that can take your ice cream ideation from good to great.