There are a wide variety of options available in the ice cream industry these days, particularly artisanal ice cream varieties. Supermarket shelves hold a trove of different products, and an increasing number of creative, independent ice cream shops are springing up in cities around the world. Amidst all of this competition, companies need to get creative in order to stand out, and they need to pay attention to the latest features that customers are demanding in their ice cream.
The global ice cream market may only be growing at a CAGR of 5% over the next few years, but in an industry that’s approaching the $100 billion mark, 5% is nothing to scoff at. Between now and 2024, the market’s value is expected to increase by roughly $20 billion, with Europe and APAC leading the way in terms of growth. In a fragmented market, this leaves plenty of room for companies to develop new product lines and specialized vendors to enter in order to cater to underserved niches.
In today’s market, competition is getting fiercer, consumer tastes are becoming more sophisticated, and “low-calorie” alone isn’t cutting it anymore. So what are artisanal ice cream brands doing to make people excited about their products?
Creative and sophisticated flavors
A growing number of ice cream shops are bringing in the crowds with flavors that reach far beyond the traditional favorites such as chocolate or butterscotch. These vendors bring in savory flavors and ingredients that aren’t commonly seen in ice creams to create unique offerings that customers would have a hard time finding anywhere else. The US-based independent ice cream shop Salt & Straw, for example, offers flavors such as pear and blue cheese, honey lavender, and coffee and bourbon, along with their twist on more traditional options such as cookies and cream or mint chocolate chip. Salt & Straw is far from the only company getting creative with flavors, and as consumers get a taste for new and unique ice cream options, expect to see many more brands following suit this year.
Supermarket shelves are also beginning to see more diverse ice cream flavor options, with premium brands offering more sophisticated products. Häagen-Dazs, for example, recently introduced a line of alcohol-based ice creams, including Irish Cream Brownie and Bourbon Vanilla Bean Truffle. As more consumers discover the complex flavor profiles possible in ice cream, more of these products will become available in grocery stores rather than staying in the realm of independent shops.
Health is more than just calories
Low-calorie options have been around for years, but customers are now looking for more in their ice cream than just a “light” version, and don’t want to sacrifice flavor or quality. Portion control is one way to address this – some consumers are simply eating smaller amounts rather than seeking out low-calorie options specifically. But there are many other variations on “heathy” ice creams that are starting to take off.
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A fun way to get your protein
High-protein ice creams are becoming increasingly popular, particularly among younger demographics. These products reduce calories while boosting protein, and are being offered by brands such as Halo Top (one of the first to market this type of ice cream), Breyers, and Skinny Cow.
Probiotics aren’t just for yogurt
Artisanal ice cream brands are beginning to offer probiotic products as another way for consumers to indulge while still being healthy. Culture Republick, for example, is a new ice cream brand that boasts of its probiotic content along with its low fat, sugar, and calorie content. Other companies are bringing their own probiotic offerings to the market as well.
As the keto diet continues to grow in popularity, brands are beginning to create keto-friendly ice creams: low-carb products that replace sugar with other sweeteners and use healthy fats in their recipes. Halo Top is again a popular brand in this category, but there are several other healthy ice cream brands with low-carb offerings.
Non-traditional ice cream bases
Ice cream manufacturers are becoming increasingly creative with their products, whether to cater to those with food allergies or just provide more healthy options. People with dairy allergies aren’t the only ones with options anymore: companies are now using chickpeas, tahini, oat milk, and even avocado in their artisanal ice creams. While many of these ingredients are typically used in savory dishes, they can be adapted to desserts as well, and an increasing number of vendors are doing just that, resulting in vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free options on the market.
Sustainability is in
Concern for the environment and sustainable business practices continues to grow, and ice cream companies are getting on board. Many artisanal ice cream brands are working to source their ingredients locally, and some are also using more environmentally friendly packaging.
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Bigger brands are also looking to reduce waste, creating more recyclable and biodegradable packaging and reducing the amount of plastic used in their products. For example, Unilever brand Solero is testing a new box that uses 35% less plastic and has separate compartments for its ice cream bars as an alternative to wrapping each one in plastic. As packaging manufacturers continue to develop biodegradable and plastic-free solutions, more ice cream brands will begin creating innovative solutions to packaging their products.
Learn more about key trends and other insights into the artisanal ice cream market with Technavio’s research report:
- Detailed information on factors that will accelerate ice cream market growth during the next five years
- Precise estimation of the global ice cream market size and its contribution to the parent market
- Accurate predictions on upcoming trends and changes in consumer behavior
- The growth of the ice cream industry across APAC, Europe, MEA, North America, and South America
- A thorough analysis of the market’s competitive landscape and detailed information on vendors
- Comprehensive details of factors that will challenge the growth of ice cream vendors