It is nothing short of a modern day miracle. Despite all the talk of kale, quinoa, chia seeds and other “I need to eat healthier” superfoods, consumers are still screaming for ice cream— and they are screaming louder than ever. Retailers have been responding by devoting more and more valuable freezer shelf space to ice cream. Manufacturers
have heard the call and are expanding and updating their portfolios with more rich, decadent flavors, along with cleaner labels,
portion-controlled servings and lower calorie offerings for those
watching their waistlines.
“Indulgence has seen a resurgence in ice cream with consumers
looking to treat themselves and their families,” says David Wilson,
senior marketing manager – frozen desserts at Kemps, based in
St. Paul, Minn. “New flavor combinations and packaging that help
convey indulgence are also growing in prominence,” he says, citing
trends including smaller package sizes, clear cartons, and trendy
flavors like salted caramel, loaded cookie dough and brownies.
Consumers are also showing more concern about what is actually in their ice cream, industry observers note.
“With increasing access to information through multiple chan-
nels, consumers are more inter-
ested than ever in what’s going
into the products they con-
sume,” says Flip Block, market-
ing director, Mars Ice Cream,
based in Hackettstown, N.J.
“Mars Ice Cream frozen novel-
ties from Snickers, Twix, Milky
Way, M&M’S and Dove Brands are made with real ice cream, which
offers the quality and flavor that consumers value.”
Officials at Unilever, which counts Breyers, Good Humor,
Klondike, Popsicle, Ben & Jerry’s and MAGNUM Ice Cream among
its brands, say consumers are also concerned about environmental
and societal issues.
“As the world’s largest ice cream company, Unilever believes
in the promotion of sustainable standards that help protect the
environment and promote the well-being of workers, their families
and their communities,” says Nick Soukas, director of ice cream at
Unilever, which maintains U.S. headquarters in Englewood Cliffs,
N.J. “We’re seeing more brands moving toward this trend, and
Unilever is at the forefront of this effort.”
Several major initiatives have already been implemented, Soukas
Currently, the Breyers brand only uses real vanilla from 100 percent sustainably farmed vanilla beans that are Rainforest Alliance
Certified, and the company expects all of its vanilla beans to be
Rainforest Certified by 2018, Soukas says, and as of last December,
Breyers only uses sustainably farmed fruit in its products.
Likewise, the MAGNUM brand began using sustainably sourced
cocoa in January 2015. In 2012, the company signed a long-term
partnership agreement with high-quality cocoa supplier Barry
In addition to touting the sustainability of their suppliers, Soukas
suggests retailers liven up their merchandising of the department.
“Unilever encourages retailers to make their ice cream aisle a fun
and easy place to shop,” he says. “That is achieved through in-store
A proliferation of new decadent flavors and healthier items in both cartons and novelties
is turning dessert and snack time into a religious experience for ice cream lovers.
BY RICHARD TURCSIK