The Ice Cream Evolution: Updates and New Twists on a Classic Dessert

Dieters, beware: According to the International Dairy Foods Association, the average American eats 20 pounds of ice cream a year! While that may not be great news for waistlines, it highlights the ongoing opportunity manufacturers have to boost business by offering new flavors and formulations for this perennial favorite.

Right now, consumers are expanding their palate when it comes to spicy, savory and ethnic options for foods and beverages. And there’s no reason that can’t extend to ice cream, according to a recent scoop in Dairy Foods that explored the latest advances in ice cream formulation and processing.  To say the least, the world of ice cream now is moving away from, well, a vanilla approach.

“There are a variety of flavor trends emerging in the market that appeal to consumers’ wants and needs,” says Sydney Byrne, Marketing Specialist, Sensient Flavors & Extracts. “We are seeing a rise in adventurous flavors. Consumers are on the hunt for experience and uniqueness when having ice cream, and when they see these on the shelves they think, ‘I have never seen this before — I have to try this!’”

Elements from bakery and beverages also are making their way into the ice cream space, providing interest through cross-category influence. Flavors like cereal, breakfast cakes, cornbread, muffins, etc., are ramping up in launches. Many times, these concepts not only offer new flavor, but also new texture, which is currently the No. 1 desire for consumers when looking to purchase ice cream. By having this category cross over, consumers can “double indulge” in their favorite things.

Innovative Concepts also Keep Health Goals in Mind

When it comes to creating flavors, it’s all about listening to the consumer and tracking down the trends that are penetrating not only their food choices, but their lives in general, Byrne explains.

“Lifestyle changes, global and cultural influences, and health and wellness elements are all aspects and influences that bleed into consumer purchasing decisions, and ice cream is no exception,” she says. “By understanding the trends influencing consumers, we are able to tailor and create flavors that are not only delicious, but what the market and consumers are currently looking for. With a high rate of product switching on the shelves year over year, creating an ice cream that fits to consumer’s current desires is more important than ever.”

This approach also will let manufacturers provide multiple options, meeting health-focused consumers who also want a straight-up indulgent treat.

“We are going to continue to see the launch of unique flavors, flavors mimicking popular desserts and snacks, and flavors that are super indulgent with various textures, flavors, swirls, etc.,” Byrne predicts. “Though health and wellness are becoming more prominent in consumers’ lives, consumers would still rather have a small serving of super indulgent ice cream than a larger serving of better-for-you ice cream.

“Consumers are making healthier lifestyle changes, but they don’t want to sacrifice their ice cream. Some consumers want an ice cream option that still fits into their diets and lifestyles (keto, low sugar, plant-based, low calorie, etc.). The tricky part is that they want these better-for-you options to taste like ‘normal’ options. We are also seeing ice creams being launched with added functional benefits, such as ones that promote sleep, have added benefits, whereas flavor and taste technology can assist in making these better-for-you options taste more appealing.”

Ready to dig into the kind of ice cream concepts that will excite your clients (and their consumers) over? Let’s be taste buds! Contact Sensient Flavors & Extracts to get started!