There is a substantial ice cream and frozen foods market in the UK and the category can be a gold mine for wholesalers as it delivers higher value margins compared to other categories.

In addition, being frozen, the items have a lengthy expiry date meaning there is little wastage to consider for both wholesalers and their retail customers.

Although the market has traditionally been weather dependent, recent years have shown that it needn’t be a sunny day for ice cream and frozen sales to soar.

The summers of 2016 and 2018 weren’t exactly vintage ones for consistent warm weather.

However, the Euro’s, the Olympic Games (in 2016) and the 2018 World Cup sent consumers out onto the streets in droves, causing the category to grow, especially of impulse ice cream lines.

With so many BBQ’s and parties being held, sales of take-home ice cream and frozen food soared too, with families stocking up on both to ensure they have the goods to hold an impromptu party.

The mixed weather can actually be an advantage, according to wholesaler P.H Lal from West Bromwich. He said: “My customers tell me their shoppers can’t predict the weather and mostly make decisions on the day, which means they stock up beforehand with frozen food as they see it as a no-brainer – it’s not going to go to waste.”

This year presents a similar golden opportunity for wholesalers, with the Euro’s 2020 and the Olympic Games sure to spark get-togethers from June through to August.

Wholesalers should still keep an eye on the weather though, and be prepared to act quickly to capitalise on hot weather peaks by having enough freezer space and stock.

Ice cream is one of the nation’s favourite foods. Annual value sales have increased by 11% over the past two years to almost £1.3 billion in the total Take Home and Impulse ice cream market, with over 90% of households buying into the ice cream category (Nielsen).

In addition, ice cream is the largest frozen sector by sales value in summer and the second largest in winter.

Indulgent sticks are the biggest sector in the category, followed by super-premium tubs, everyday premium tubs, lollies and cones.

With this in mind, this year Froneri are combining two global brands that consumers recognise, Oreo and Cadbury, to create the Cadbury coated Oreo Stick Sandwich.

“It’s unlike anything else in the market,” said Henry Craven, Customer Marketing Controller at Froneri.

“There’s huge headroom for growth at family snacking occasions and the growth of Oreo and Cadbury as a power co-brand offers an exciting opportunity to bring a brand new eating experience to the category.”

Building on the success of their new brand launch in 2019, Nuii, Froneri are introducing a new, exotic flavour this year with Nuii Coconut & Indian Mango.

Appealing to a younger audience, this indulgent ice cream stick boasts premium ingredients.

“In its first year, Nuii has achieved the third highest penetration of all stick brands and the adventure is set to continue in 2020,” says Henry.

The trend for plant-based eating is fuelling growth and attracting a lot of attention; plant-based meal occasions have increased 37% in the past four years (Kantar).

In response to this, Froneri are launching a new brand this year, RØAR, an indulgent plant-based ice cream that’s aimed at consumers who are looking to indulge whilst still making responsible food choices.

The range does not contain palm oil and all cocoa is UTZ Certified.

“We’ve put a lot of time and effort into getting the taste absolutely right – it has to taste incredible and be indulgent without compromise – and we don’t think they will be disappointed.”

While plant-based eating and other health trends need to be considered, recent reports show we’re still an indulgent nation, with premium ice cream gaining a household penetration of 53.1% over the past 12 months (Nielsen).

With shoppers looking for luxury with lower calories, Häagen-Dazs has announced record success for its 150 Calorie Gelato Collection, the biggest source of growth for the brand in 2019.

Launching in January 2019 in two flavours, Caramel Swirl and Chocolate Drizzle, it has one of the highest repeat purchase rates within the Wellness category at 29%.

Kat Jones, Marketing Manager, Ice Cream & Snacking at General Mills said: “The launch of the 150 Calorie Gelato Collection has been a huge success and helped us to introduce new shoppers to Häagen-Dazs.”

She added: “Now is the perfect time for wholesalers and retailers to stock up and reap the rewards a lower calorie option provides, with people looking for something lighter it can be an easy win.”

Ideal for take home purchases and the big night in occasion, Häagen-Dazs recommends retailers stock the 150 Calorie Gelato Collection alongside regular ice cream to demonstrate range and choice.

Unilever, the UK’s leading ice cream manufacturer, is set to brighten up freezers across the nation this summer with its latest range of innovation from the Wall’s brand.

The new variants from Wall’s best-selling brands include a new offering from Cornetto, two new flavours from Wall’s and a brand-new shape innovation from Twister, its first in 18 years.

Andre Burger, VP Ice Cream and Snacking, Unilever UK&I, commented: “With these new innovations, our ice cream portfolio will bring to life shoppers’ favourite parts of summer, making those summer moments even more enjoyable and helping to drive incremental sales to the category.”

To appeal to Millennials and Gen Z, Cornetto is launching Cornetto Mermaid. This new product features a pink cone filled with a matcha and raspberry flavoured ice cream. Fans of the brand will also be able to get their hands on a raspberry and vanilla multipack range too.

It includes a holographic varnish on the packaging, emulating a mermaid’s tail, making the cones highly Instagrammable.

Meanwhile, Wall’s Calippo is adding Calippo Cola to its range, and while Calippo Lime is already available in multipacks, the brand is now launching this family favourite in an OOH SKU.

Wall’s Twister is launching its first shape innovation since its debut in 1982 with new Wall’s Twister 3ster.

Featuring an innovative shape, bright colours and a unique combination of three new flavours – vanilla, strawberry and mango, this new addition carries Unilever’s Responsibly Made For Kids promise which gives parents reassurance about which ice creams children can enjoy.

Unilever’s premium ice cream brand Magnum, has launched a brand new, unique addition to the range, Magnum Ruby.

Described by the brand as the biggest innovation in the chocolate world since White Chocolate was discovered 80 years ago, Ruby chocolate is a fourth type of chocolate, after Dark, Milk and White chocolate.

Ruby chocolate was crafted by Barry Callebaut, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate with over 175 years of expertise and took more than 10 years to develop

The naturally present flavour and colour tone in the Ruby bean is unlocked by a unique crafting process, creating a new dimension of taste and flavour in this chocolate which is free from artificial colours and fruit flavourings.

Since its launch, this new chocolate has been introduced in Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and South Africa by both consumer and artisanal brands in confectionery, desserts and biscuits.

The new range is brought to life through eye-catching, ruby-coloured packaging, featuring intricate gold foil detail and will be supported with a £5.5m marketing campaign.

The new product is available in three formats: Magnum Ruby 3 x 90ml RRP £3.69 (Stick multipack); Magnum Ruby 6 x 55ml RRP £3.89 (Mini stick multipack) and Magnum Ruby 90ml RRP £2.00 (Single stick).

Outside of ice-cream and with the summer season fast approaching, wholesalers should think of frozen foods that lend themselves to quick and easy serving for impromptu parties.

Ajinomoto Foods Europe, producer of Japan’s number one selling Gyoza, offers a large range of dishes that can be cooked from frozen and served in less than five minutes, helping operators to serve authentic global flavours without specialist training or equipment.

“With UK consumers looking for authentic global flavours, the current market shows an expanding demand for food from Japan,” said Jessica Davies, Communications Manager at Ajinomoto Foods Europe.

“This presents a key opportunity for wholesalers and operators looking to expand their range and to increase profits, by maximising the dining occasion with adventurous consumers.”

Ajinomoto Foods Europe offers frozen Gyoza in five savoury flavours including Chicken and Vegetable, Pork, Duck, Prawn and the vegan 5 Vegetable with spinach pastry, along with one sweet flavour, Apple, to add to dessert menus.

The Gyoza can be cooked – pan fried, stream fried, or deep fried – from frozen in just 5 minutes.

As the Gyoza are individually frozen, operators are able to use the exact required portion so reducing any food waste, making them ideal for appetisers, canapés and sharing platters as well as upgrading Asian salads, noodle dishes and soups.

Fish is arguably the next biggest shopped frozen product after ice-cream, although the sector has been hit hard recently by environmental conscious causes.

To address this and appeal to a more environmentally aware consumer, frozen fish specialist Young’s Seafood has unveiled all new, fresh, packaging design across its £62m core range of products.

Young’s have amplified the visibility of their commitment to responsible sourcing by moving its ‘Fish for Life’ logo onto the front of the new core packs.

Fish for Life is a long term Young’s initiative, signifying its commitment to doing things the right way by caring for its people, planet and partners in all its ventures.

As health is also a growing concern for many consumers, Young’s has also introduced the traffic light Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) onto this new packaging to give consumers a simple snapshot of the nutritional information for the product.

Jason Manley, Marketing Director of Young’s, said: “This branding overhaul is designed to inspire a younger audience to love fish and publicly reasserts our commitment to operating as a responsible business.

“Our core range is a £62m brand, so having consistency is vital in order for us to ensure its lasting prominence within its category alongside our successful Gastro and Chip Shop ranges.”

In the frozen meals sector there is the age-old tension between indulgence v health, according to Shah Khan – Aviko, Senior Marketing Manager, UK & Ireland.

Deemed healthier than the humble potato, sweet potato is experiencing an explosion in growth and Aviko have capitalised on this with their Rib Cut Sweet Potato Fries, steam blanched to retain more of the natural flavour and goodness of the sweet potato.

Aviko also offer the traditional product range, such as their Thick Cut Super Crunch Oven Chips, which says Shah, enables wholesalers and retailers to meet the growing demand for premium frozen fries.

“We understand it’s important to give wholesalers and retailers the choice and flexibility to offer the right proposition and price point for their customers.

“Therefore, our range of restaurant quality frozen potato products is available in both price marked and non-price marked packs.”

Aviko’s range of PMP’s include: Supercrunch Chips (PMP £1.49), Bite sized Hash Browns (PMP £1) and Herb Diced Potatoes (PMP £1).

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