To read about how brown flavors continue to evolve in the ice cream category, with caramel’s new best friends being the apple, the banana, the pear and the pineapple, link HERE.
To read about reconstructing desserts into ice cream treats, link HERE.
Many of these complex creations defy the rules of clean-label formulating, not to be confused with clean-labeling marketing. Clean-label formulating is all about using a minimal number of ingredients, and using simple ingredients such as those found in grandma’s cupboard. (Except, really, how many consumers today actually have a living grandma with a cupboard of ingredients, aside from flour, sugar, salt and vegetable oil?)
Clean-label marketing is all about transparency and disclosure. It often includes statements about what the product does not contain, which suggests that like products in the market do contain these ingredients. It’s about connecting with consumers on a personal level. It’s about artisan and hand crafted.
Clean-label formulating and clean-label marketing often go hand-in-hand. Some might refer to this as the real food movement. It incorporates health, animal welfare, social justice and environmental sustainability. Buzzwords associated with the real food movement include clean, local, green, and slow, as well as fair, organic and free-from.
One thing to note with ice cream, the more complex the ice cream flavor, the less simple its ingredient statement. Careful ingredient selection can keep the ice cream real!
Caribou Coffee and Mars are the most recent big-brand players to embrace clean labelling, with the former committed to removing all artificial flavorings by the end of 2016, while Mars will phase out artificial colors from its food and drinks globally over the next five years. But with ambiguity surrounding the term, how much influence will such promises have on consumers?
Melanie Felgate, senior consumer insight analyst for Canadean, says, “The term clean label resonates differently among consumers globally, and moreover a third of consumers (34%) do not actually have any understanding of what it means at all. This may reflect the fact that the term clean label is more widely used in industry than as a marketing claim in itself. However as the clean movement gains mainstream traction, as reflected by the popularity social media hashtags such as #cleaneating, it is important that marketers understand what clean actually means to the consumer.”
Of those who do recognize the clean-label term, Canadean’s Q4 2015 global survey revealed it is most likely to be interpreted as meaning products are free from artificial ingredients, are natural or organic, or are chemical/pesticide-free, while a smaller proportion of consumers also associate it with other attributes such as being allergen-free. On this, Felgate says, “The clean-label term generally resonates with consumers as an indicator that a product is natural or chemical-free. However, the fact that a significant proportion of consumers don’t understand the term or interpret it to mean, for example, that a product could be gluten free, suggests that brands should continue to place their marketing focus on core benefits, rather than simply promoting their products as clean.”
With ice cream, we must never forget that the benefit is enjoyment.
So how can ice cream brands align with the clean-label trend? The recent approach by U.S. coffee chain Caribou Coffee is a smart one, according to Felgate.
Ben & Jerry’s has long been known for complexity, and its use of real, very flavorful ingredients. It avoids ingredients on Whole Foods’ unacceptable list, but has no problem embracing ingredients that assist with maintaining product quality and delivering flavor. This Unilever brand has also never been about organic, but in recent years has taken a free-from genetically modified ingredients stand. This is Ben & Jerry’s approach to clean-label formulating.
The company recently added a Target-exclusive flavor to its product lineup that carries a clean-label name. New Ben & Jerry’s Brewed to Matter Ice Cream is coffee ice cream with fudge chunks and a brownie batter swirl. The kosher certified product is made with non-GMO ingredients, Fairtrade cocoa, coffee, sugar and vanilla, eggs from cage-free hens, and milk and cream. Labels even say the milk and cream comes from “happy cows.”
The ingredient statement reads: CREAM, SKIM MILK, LIQUID SUGAR (SUGAR, WATER), WATER, SUGAR, COFFEE EXTRACT, COCONUT OIL, EGG YOLKS, DRIED CANE SYRUP, COCOA (PROCESSED WITH ALKALI), COCOA, BUTTER (CREAM, SALT), CORN SYRUP, WHEAT FLOUR, CHOCOLATE LIQUOR, CANOLA OIL, CARRAGEENAN, GUAR GUM, SALT, SOY LECITHIN, NATURAL FLAVOR, VANILLA EXTRACT, MILK FAT, SODIUM BICARBONATE.
For summer 2016, Häagen-Dazs is replacing the Artisan Collection with the Destination Series, a concept that still involves teaming up with artisan culinary professionals. The flavors are “inspired by some of the world’s most popular travel destinations.”
For example, Sweet Cream Coffee Caramel was developed in collaboration with the small batch artisans at CC Made, Berkeley, CA. The ice cream combines swirls of sweet cream and coffee ice cream with thick ribbons of chicory coffee caramel for an experience rich with New Orleans flavor.
Häagen-Dazs, a brand of Nestle USA, has long maintained a simple approach to ice cream making, which includes using the purest and finest ingredients in the world and crafting them into the best ice cream, as stated on its website.
Check out this trailer for Crafted, a documentary by award-winning director Morgan Spurlock and commissioned by Haagen-Dazs. Link HERE.
For example, Vanilla Tangerine and Shortbread was developed in collaboration with the small batch artisans at Rare Bird Preserves, River Forest, IL. The flavor combines creamy vanilla ice cream with ribbons of sweet-tart tangerine curd and buttery shortbread cookies for a treat reminiscent of teatime in the U.K. The ingredients are: VANILLA ICE CREAM: CREAM, SKIM MILK, SUGAR, EGG YOLKS, VANILLA EXTRACT. TANGERINE SWIRL: SUGAR, EGG YOLKS, TANGERINE JUICE CONCENTRATE, BUTTER (CREAM, SALT), WATER, TANGERINE EXTRACT, SALT, LEMON JUICE CONCENTRATE. SHORTBREAD COOKIE PIECES: WHEAT FLOUR, BUTTER (CREAM, SALT), SUGAR, EGGS, SALT. CONTAINS: MILK, EGG AND WHEAT INGREDIENTS.
Tillamook has always been about clean-label ice cream. All of its ice creams are void of artificial preservatives, flavors, colors, sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup. But again, to develop a complex superpremium flavor such as Speculoos Cookie Caramel, the ingredient list is going to have to be long.
It reads: Cream, Skim Milk, Sugar, Speculoos Cookie Pieces (cookie pieces [enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), sugar, butter (cream, salt), brown sugar, invert sugar, soy flour, cinnamon, salt, sodium bicarbonate], coconut oil), Caramel (rice syrup, milk, water, sugar, nonfat dry milk, butter (cream, salt), pectin, sodium citrate, salt, sunflower lecithin), Speculoos Cookie Butter (speculoos cookies [wheat flour, brown sugar, vegetable oil (palm, canola, and coconut oil), sugar, soy flour, invert sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg], vegetable oil [canola and palm oil], sugar, rapeseed lecithin), Speculoos Cookie Butter Base (water, sugar, butter [cream, salt], brown sugar, natural flavor, corn starch, salt, spice, beta carotene [color]), Locust Bean Gum, Guar Gum.
Even organic ice cream often relies on assistance from natural hydrocolloids to maintain quality during distribution and freeze-thaw cycles. For example, Humboldt Creamery is going national with its superpremium organic ice cream. Mint Chip’s ingredient statement reads: organic cream, organic sugar, organic condensed milk, organic chocolate flavored chip (organic dried cane syrup, organic coconut oil, organic cocoa powder, organic soybean oil, organic cocoa liquor, organic soy lecithin), natural organic peppermint extract (organic alcohol, organic peppermint extractives), organic stabilizer (organic locust bean gum, organic guar gum, organic dried cane syrup).
Hope to see you in Florida this week at the International Dairy Foods Association’s annual Ice Cream Technology conference. For more information, link HERE.