Thursday, March 29, 2018

Ice Cream Category Disruptor #2: The Power of the Pint Package

Pints are a powerful package size in the world of ice cream. By definition, pints hold 16 fluid ounces of product; however, for economics, some “pint” packs contain a little less.

Regardless of how much is inside, pints cost more--often a lot more—on a per-ounce-base than larger-sized ice cream containers. In fact, numerous artisan, hand-crafted brands command as much as $10 per pint at retail. Such smaller-sized containers, though more expensive, invite consumers to try something new. There’s less product, and thus less risk of waste in case you don’t like it.

“The pint-type package is the fastest-growing size in the ice cream segment, with retail sales up more than 10% per year (on average) over the past 5 years,” says David Owens, chief executive officer of Boardwalk Frozen Treats LLC, which licenses the Baskin-Robbins ice cream brand from Dunkin’ Brands. “Every family member wants his or her favorite flavor, along with variety and portion control, and this size accommodates those needs.”

The company embraced the pint package when it debuted in 2014. Baskin-Robbin is currently the number-eight pint brand in U.S. supermarket freezers. New for this summer is a line of Dunkin’ Donuts branded ice cream pints. The three varieties—Chocolate Chip, Coffee and French vanilla—are all made with Dunkin’s signature coffee.

Also new for this summer, Velvet Ice Cream is adding Chocolate Peanut Butter to its lineup of pints. The new flavor is exclusive to the pint package and is a blend of slightly salty peanut butter with rich chocolate ice cream.

Pints help ice cream manufacturers overcome formulation challenges associated with adding lots of inclusions, especially variegates and fruit sauces that impact freezing temperature and product integrity over shelf life. This is something Ben & Jerry’s taught the ice cream industry when the brand started packing in chunks, chips, swirls and all types of flavorful ingredients that could cause the aerated ice cream mixture to collapse in a larger-sized container that would go in and out of the home freezer for multiple eating occasions.

Pints also allow for unique formulations, such as layers. For example, Haagen-Dazs Trio is a line of ice cream pints that contain multiple layers of ice cream and crispy Belgian chocolate. To get a taste of all the layers, you have to dig in. Such layering would be challenging to achieve, as well as maintain over shelflife, in a half-gallon package.

Three new flavors are debuting for this summer season. They are: Coconut Caramel Chocolate (creamy coconut and chocolate ice cream mingle with crisp Belgian milk chocolate and luscious caramel sauce), Lemon Raspberry White Chocolate (lemon and raspberry ice creams between perfectly crispy white chocolate and sweet raspberry sauce) and Vanilla Caramel White Chocolate (vanilla and caramel ice cream with crunchy white chocolate and sweet caramel sauce). They join the original four varieties—Chocolate & Vanilla, Salted Caramel & Chocolate, Vanilla & Blackberry and White & Milk Chocolate—that have been around a little longer than a year. Each 14-ounce container features a total of 17 layers of these ingredient combinations.

Ben & Jerry’s “Core” product line also requires a pint-sized container. This concept includes a core center down the middle. The flavor of the core complements the superpremium ice cream flavors on either side of the core.

One of the newest offerings is Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Core, which is chocolate and cheesecake ice cream with chocolate cookies and a cheesecake core.
Pints make sense for limited-edition, special-batch and seasonal concepts. Short-time offerings create an urgency to purchase. When they come in a smaller-sized package, the consumer is often more willing to buy and bring home. There’s less of a commitment. In their mind, it’s a tasting, a sampling event.

Here’s a new special-batch product that appeals to Cincinnati locals. Graeter’s, a 147-year-old family-owned craft ice cream company, has brought back Chunky Chunky Hippo Ice Cream, a flavor introduced in the summer of 2017. It was a fun, casual dip-shop flavor served at the company’s retail shop inside the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. The hippo-inspired flavor is sweet toffee ice cream base, salted roasted peanuts and milk chocolate caramel truffles. It’s a limited-edition flavor produced in small batches and now sold in pints.

The pint artwork was specially created by Loren Long, author and illustrator of a line of New York Times bestselling-picture books. Chunky Chunky Hippo celebrates Fiona’s first birthday on January 24th, the Cincinnati Zoo’s world-famous addition to its hippo habitat. Fiona’s birth story as a premie hippo who was not thought to have a chance to survive has been embraced by the regional community.

View a short video HERE that Graeter’s produced in partnership with the zoo to celebrate Fiona’s one year birthday.

The latest rage in pints, however, is protein-enriched ice cream innovations, some going by the descriptor frozen dairy dessert because of standards of identity. Most of these products are low in calories, fat and sugar. They promise shoppers the indulgence of ice cream without the guilt or empty calories. And consumers are eating it up, one pint at a time. To read more about this trend, link HERE.

“Want to learn more about the evolving ice cream category in order to best plan for future innovation? Plan to attend the International Dairy Foods Association’s annual Ice Cream Technology Conference April 10 to 11, 2018, in Fort Myers, Florida. For more information, link HERE.

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