Ice cream is a growing category, with consumers broadening their repertoire into new formats like cookie dough bites, mochi and ice cream sandwiches.
There is also a move towards ‘better for you’ products containing no artificial colours, flavours, palm oil or emulsifiers.
Due to concerns over sugar and calories, consumers now want greater control over portion size.
Kat Jones, Marketing Manager, Ice Cream at General Mills, tells Wholesale Manager what trends are driving the market and provides advice for retailers to maximise sales.
What is the value of the UK ice cream market?
The total ice cream category is currently seeing 9.1% growth1, a sales increase of +£112M2. Luxury tubs are worth £3.6m3 and account for 35% of Take-Home Ice Cream growth in convenience which saw Häagen-Dazs become the fastest growing luxury tub brand in convenience in Summer 20204.
What trends are driving the market?
A new trend that we’re seeing within ice cream is ‘snackification’; Suppliers are taking alternative routes and expanding into new formats across the category. We’ve seen this so far take the form of cookie dough bites, mochi and ice cream sandwiches amongst others, where ice cream is being introduced into compatible snacking formats, leading to a more versatile overall snack.
Wellness has really expanded and evolved over recent years – we’ve seen a more holistic shift to ‘better for you’ which can take many forms, starting with a demand for clean ingredients. Our core range answers the mindful indulgence trend with high quality, premium ingredients (fresh real cream and no artificial colours, flavours, palm oil or emulsifiers), so shoppers look to us as a trusted treat.
Another key trend is sugar. We know that more than one third of category users have reduced their ice cream consumption in the last year due to sugar concerns5. Yet, out of those concerned, 50% of shoppers agree that having greater control over portion size is a good alternative to abstaining6. This is where Häagen-Dazs comes in; our differing portion sizes, from tubs to mini cups, support consumer choice and allow them to control their level of indulgence, which we’ve found is a big purchase driver.
Our lower calorie range, Gelato, is ideal for shoppers looking for a lighter option, containing only 150 calories per mini cup 95ml portion, 30% less sugar and 50% less fat than regular ice cream.
What effect did Covid, and the resulting lockdowns have on the ice cream market?
Interestingly, the value growth of convenience outpaced total market for the 26-week summer period last year, growing +31%7. We know that in the summer, this was driven by favourable weather as well as lockdown.
Towards the end of last year, wellness took a back seat with the Low-Calorie segment falling significantly behind the total Ice Cream category in total market (+3.4% vs. YA8). This temporary slowdown of wellness can be attributed to consumers turning to comfort and indulgence throughout COVID-19.
What are the key products in your range that wholesalers should be stocking?
An effective fixture or offering caters to the masses. We’d recommend a strong range of luxury pints, handheld variants and mini pots, three ice cream staples, which have been the biggest contributors growing +13%, +117% and +51%9 respectively.
The Häagen-Dazs portfolio and its different formats is multi-functional; our popular tubs tap into the sharing at-home occasion, while the mini cups (including our gelato selection) provide individual portion-sizes, ideal for those sharing opportunities, while also catering to the mindful consumption trend.
Indulgent flavours, a space that Häagen-Dazs is famed for, like salted caramel, cookie, chocolate, and dessert flavours also perform exceptionally well, making them must stocks too.
How have the new Lime Mojito Sorbet and Piña Colada ice creams been performing so far?
Since launching as a grocery exclusive in Asda in May, both SKUs have performed exceptionally, with Rate of Sale already ahead of established Häagen-Dazs favourites – we’ve had really positive feedback from consumers on the flavours so far and are really excited to watch them grow further.
We’ve found ourselves a sweet spot here, with summer holidays still looking uncertain, the new cocktail collection has been positioned as the solution, offering consumers a summery, fresh ice cream option.
Is there any further NPD in the pipeline?
Last year, growth continued well into the atypical ice cream season. During winter specifically, we saw retailers grow their share of ice cream space as they looked to drive frozen conversion via ice cream.
We are looking to announce some innovation over the colder months this year as we work to prevent the traditional lapse of consumers from the category over this time frame and drive relevancy of ice cream during winter…
Do you have any more marketing activity planned?
We are hoping to continue building our Love the Mix platform so keep your eyes peeled for new developments, and certainly an exciting year for Häagen-Dazs as we look to extend category growth outside of the summer period.
What advice can you provide for wholesalers to maximise sales?
Market complimentary categories together in depots – Cross merchandising ice cream with alcohol or other sharing size snacks presents an opportunity to up-sell and inspire occasions like a ‘Big Night In’ solution that retailers can easily implement in their stores.
De-seasonalise your ice cream fixture – We know that shelf space remains at a premium, allocate space to year-round growth drivers such as Pints or Mini Cup formats, which have a higher share of sales in winter months10.
Support your ice cream offering with a high visibility fixture – during the summer period especially, amp up your visibility of ice cream ranges as a key category to ensure retailers know where your freezer is easily and can navigate this with ease.