Global ice cream market stays cool despite a frigid economy

September 8, 2010

According to Mintel Global Market Navigator (GMN), ice cream retailers are scooping up the profits despite a chilly economy, as the combined value of the top five European markets (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom) stands at £4.6 billion, up from £4.1 billion in 2008. Meanwhile, the U.S. ice cream market is expected to reach $6.8 million in 2010.

Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) found that premium lines accounted for 9% of global ice cream product launches in the last six months, while economy lines represented 4% of global launches. Even though ice cream is often seen as an affordable, sweet indulgence, consumers still express an interest in healthier products. Manufacturers have answered, with 13% of all product launches touting a “no additives/preservatives” claim.

“The strongest ‘healthier’ trend in ice cream has been the removal of additives and preservatives, rather than the limiting of fat, sugar, or calories,” said Ana Lourenco, Global Market Navigator Analyst at Mintel. “There’s definitely an opportunity for more on-trend superfruit or antioxidant-rich formulations to help make ice cream appear better for you.”

What’s on the outside is just as important as what is on the inside. Packaging developments are focusing on more eco-friendly or recyclable materials. In the last six months, 13% of ice cream products featured an environmentally friendly packaging claim, a 6% increase (in terms of share launches) on the previous period, with actual launches doubling.

“Consumers are clamoring for more eco-friendly products in all food and drink categories, and ice cream is no exception,” said Lourenco. “Companies with environmentally conscious packaging and practices may be able to get a leg up on their competition.”

All European countries are in agreement when it comes to their favorite flavor: chocolate. Mintel GNPD found that over a third (32%) of the total ice cream products launched in the United Kingdom in 2009 were chocolate flavored, compared with 31% in Spain, 22% in Italy, 17% in Germany, and 16% in France. In the United States, vanilla is the flavor of choice, accounting for 11% of ice cream product launches in 2009. Chocolate is a close second, with 8%.

Press release