Where next for ice cream? ‘Frozen treat brands will need to speak to indulgences differently’

According to Mintel, the ice cream market is expected to decline by 3.7% this year compared to 2020, and a slower return to pre-pandemic growth will continue into 2022.

Consumers are gradually stepping back from indulgent foods post-pandemic and many ice cream brands will be challenged to maintain their appeal, notes Kaitlin Kamp, consumer insights analyst on the Food and Drink Reports team at Mintel. 

“As consumers slowly emerge from the pandemic in 2021 with renewed health goals and financial concerns in mind, frozen treat brands will need to speak to indulgences differently – prioritizing value where possible and investing in better-for-you improvements to keep health-conscious consumers from cutting ties to the category​.

“To keep frozen treats in their repertoires, brands can provide permissibility through nutritional improvements, such as no added sugar formulations or added protein, or simple ingredient lists,”​ she said. 

The first area of nutritional improvement brands should target, according to Kamp, is sugar content, as more than half of US adults are cutting back their sugar intake, according to Mintel.

“While it will be important that brands not lose associations with indulgence and comfort, sugar improvements can provide much-needed permissibility as consumers aim to eat fewer indulgent foods. More than a third of US adults would be motivated to try a new frozen treat if it featured natural sweeteners like honey or maple,”​ said Kamp.

According to Mintel research on sugars and alternative sweeteners​, consumers perceive sweeteners like honey, raw cane sugar, and dried fruit as more natural and more acceptable than refined white sugar or zero-calorie sweeteners.

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