Ice cream has it licked

In 2011, the ice cream and frozen novelty market emerged from two years of struggling sales and posted a 4.1 percent increase from the previous year (retail sales of $10.7 billion) and is poised for continued growth of another 4 percent in 2012, according to research from Mintel.

When buying ice cream or other frozen novelties, 94 percent of respondents say they base their decision on flavor, 83 percent look at price and 72 percent look for a sale or promotion. When it comes to brand loyalty, 68 percent make their selections based on brand alone.

New product development will play a large role in the continued success of the ice cream market in the coming years, according to John N. Frank, Mintel food & drink analyst. New flavor profiles and ingredients, better-for-you (BFY) products and new packaging concepts will be instrumental in its success.

The popularity of Greek yogurt spilling over into the ice cream and frozen novelty market could be one reason that total U.S. retail sales of frozen yogurt were up 9.7 percent from 2011-12, the highest growth percentage of the four ice cream and frozen novelty segments.

Not surprisingly, reduced fat (38 percent), reduced sugar (38 percent) and reduced calorie (36 percent) are the most important claims consumers are looking for on the packaging of their favorite frozen treat. However, gluten-free and dairy-free products are rapidly growing in popularity with 14 percent and 15 percent of Mintel respondents saying they are "very or somewhat important" to them.

Container, or serving size, is important to 69 percent of survey respondents who buy frozen treats, and especially so among those aged 18-24 (74 percent) who are the most likely to eat it away from the home directly after purchasing it from the grocery or convenience store. Portion control containers would also fare well with those concerned with 'low-in' claims.
On the global front, Norway that spends the most per head on ice cream at £33 per head, closely followed by Australia (£30 per head), Switzerland (£25 per head) and Sweden and Finland (£24 per head respectively).  The UK ranks in 10th place with £17 per head spend. However, in terms of who is eating the most, the U.S. tops the list, with 17 liters per head, way ahead of its nearest competitors --Australia with 10.3 liters per head and Norway at 10.2.  Sweden (8 liters per head) and Denmark (7 liters per head) make up the remaining top five. Again, the UK comes in 10th at 6 liters per head.