Friday, November 6, 2020

Ice Cream Matters: Because we all could use a little comfort during these uncertain times.


Need to smile? Watch this 30-second VIDEO on the only way to eat ice cream.

Last night I finished a pint of Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip ice cream in an effort to avoid election, pandemic and yes, even Bachelorette, headlines. Through engagement in an extended family text group and with some friends on Facebook, I learned, I was not alone. Many folks were eating ice cream last night and felt very strongly about their flavor preferences and brands. (Pictured below are my sisters digging in.)

Ice cream matters! Pierre’s Ice Cream Company is making it matter more. 

The company recently rolled out Heroes Ice Cream Pints to recognize all heroes--everyone who has adapted, struggled, sacrificed and persevered during these challenging times--and to raise money for local food banks. The lineup features three flavors: Hearts for Heroes (black raspberry ice cream with raspberry filled chocolaty hearts), Super Stars (vanilla ice cream with peanut butter filled chocolaty stars and peanut butter swirl) and Virtual Hugs (caramel ice cream with sea salt caramel truffles). Pierre’s is donating $1 of every pint purchased to local food programs and the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.

Coolhaus Ice Cream has partnered with Mondelez International’s Ritz Crackers brand to create Crackers & Cream, because we all could use ice cream while going a little crackers. The limited-edition flavor features peanut butter ice cream marbled with a crispy Ritz Cracker swirl and sells for $12 a pint.

That’s right $12 per pint. And guess what? It’s worth it! 

For the four-week period ended October 4, 2020, retail ice cream/sherbet volume sales were up 8%, according to IRI, for Dairy Management Inc., and courtesy of Midwest Dairy. Year-to-date growth was +9.4%. This is impressive for a category that has been down or flat for more than two decades. This changed with the pandemic. 

What’s more impressive is that the number of ice cream/sherbet buyers is up 2.3% for the 52-weeks ended October 4, 2020, vs. a year ago and the total purchase per buyer has grown 7.6%. 

More than 83% of households have already purchased ice cream/sherbet this year, which is up 1.2%. That’s at an average rate of 37.1 pints (+7.6%) per buyer, as compared to 34.5 pints the previous 52-week period. And we are paying a lot more for ice cream these days. But that’s not stopping us from turning to this staple comfort food during these uncertain times. 

While volume is measured in pints—16 ounces—the ice cream is being purchased in all types of package sizes. However, pint containers continue to grow in popularity. 

Here’s why. 
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. 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.

For aspiring global travelers, Marco Sweets & Spices, a New York-based craft ice cream start-up, is rolling out culinary-inspired ice cream flavors rooted in a love for travel. The initial launch comes in five flavors that celebrate diverse, global ingredients. The company was founded to pay homage to beloved flavors from around the world and transport them from plate to pint.

Crafted with epicureans in mind, each variety of Marco ice cream skillfully layers flavors, including fragrant spices sourced from Brooklyn Spice Company, bringing dimension and depth to every bite. Launch varieties are: Aztec Chocolate (rich chocolate with cinnamon, ancho chile and chile de arbol), Ginger Dreamsicle (tart orange and sweet cream with a hint of spicy, bright ginger and rounded out with floral cardamom), Spicy PB Caramel (peanut butter base accented with ribbons of salted caramel and a touch of heat from chile de arbol and Aleppo pepper), Thai Coco-Lime (creamy coconut and tangy lime with a subtle smokey heat from gochugaru chili powder) and Vanilla Chai (traditional vanilla with the comforting flavors of a cup of chai, including cinnamon, ginger, fennel, cardamom, cloves, black pepper and fragrant Madagascar vanilla). Marco pints are available online in the consumers’ choice of four varieties for $50 or five for $55.

Marco is committed to supporting farmers worldwide. The company is donating 1% of every sale to One Acre Fund, a Kenya-based nonprofit organization that provides smallholder farmers with asset-based financing and agriculture training services to reduce hunger and poverty.

The Food Shop has introduced Gallivant Mawa Ice Cream. Mawa ice cream is made with milk and mawa, which are South Asian milk solids. Mawa is prepared by slow cooking full-fat milk for many hours, reducing it to one-fifth its volume by removing moisture. The solids have rich, silky caramelized notes, which when used in the manufacture of ice cream, results in a “creamier than gelato” frozen dessert, according to Snehee Chaplot, founder and CEO.

Chaplot created nine flavors for the initial rollout. They are: African Chocolate, Chinese Black Sesame, Guatemalan Cardamom, Indian Mango, Japanese Matcha, Madagascar Vanilla, Persian Pistachio, Thai Coconut and Vietnamese Coffee.

Since August 2019, the company has been selling its frozen desserts in Texas and nationwide direct-to-consumers via its website. In Houston, the company’s headquarters, delivery is free. In September 2020, the brand launched into select retail grocery stores in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Washington State, as the first phase of its long-term strategy to become a national brand.
Here’s something else that the pint package does. It helps 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 and cores of delicious inclusions.

Häagen-Dazs, a brand of Vevey, Switzerland-based Nestlé, recently added Ruby Cacao Crackle Pistachio Sweet Cream to its multi-texture Trio Crispy Layers line. Ruby cacao combines intense berry fruitiness with fresh, sour notes and a hint of cacao rawness to deliver a sensorial delight unlike anything else, according to the company.

Pints also assist with portion control, sort of. At least you know you will stop at the pint. If calories, protein or fat content are important, pints help. This is particularly true for the growing number of consumers following the keto diet, which is approximately 70% fat, 20% protein, and 5% each simple carbohydrates and non-starchy vegetables. It is a weight-loss regime rather than a long-term lifestyle eating approach, as it does not provide the body with adequate, balanced nutrition. However, foods labeled keto friendly also appeal to consumers who are limiting sugar and carbohydrate intake.

About a year ago, Beyond Better Foods introduced the Enlightened Keto Collection of ice cream pints and bars. The no-added-sugar pint flavors are: Butter Pecan, Chocolate Glazed Donut, Coffee and Cream, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Mint Chocolate Chunk, Peanut Butter Fudge and Red Velvet. One serving of any variety contains less than 1 gram of sugar and 1 gram of total net carbs. To achieve this, the products are sweetened with monk fruit and erythritol, like the brand’s original lineup, and rely on soluble corn fiber, which delivers 2 grams of fiber per half-cup serving. A half-cup serving of the pints contains 170 to 200 calories, 16 to 18 grams of fat and 2 to 4 grams of protein, depending on flavor. To achieve the higher fat levels, the formulation relies on cream and egg yolks.

The company recently added two limited-edition seasonal flavors as part of its Keto Fall Collection. In collaboration with Delish, the company now offers Peppermint Brownie (red and green peppermint ice cream with gluten-free brownie dough and chocolate chips) and Pumpkin Cheesecake (pumpkin cheesecake ice cream with a cream cheese swirl). 

Real Good Foods Company, a manufacturer of low-carb, high-protein frozen foods, including the first chicken crust frozen pizza, is making its debut in the dessert category with Real Good Ice Cream. The superpremium product with 16% butterfat is positioned as a better-for-you treat. It is sweetened with allulose and contains the prebiotic fiber inulin, which helps keep calories and added sugars down. A two-thirds cup serving contains 170 to 200 calories, 4 to 6 grams of sugar, 4 to 5 grams of protein and 19 to 21 grams of carbohydrates. The product is debuting in eight varieties. They are: Almond Charcoal, Cake Batter, Chocolate, Mocha Java Chip, Mint Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Salted Caramel and Tanzanian Vanilla.

Z0cal introduces namesake ice cream with only 15 calories per serving. The company uses high-quality ingredients, such as whole milk and the rare sugar allulose, to create ultra-low-calorie frozen desserts that contain no sucrose or sugar alcohols, no fat and no cholesterol. The ultra-low-calorie ice cream comes in Banana Cream, Cookies and Cream, Cotton Candy, Double Chocolate, Mint Chip, Rum Raisin, Strawberry, Vanilla Bean and Waffle Cone Caramel varieties. An entire pint contains from 60 to 80 calories and retails for a suggested $6.49.
Ice cream will likely help many of us get through the winter and the pandemic. Holiday-themed products may lift spirits. 

Velvet Ice Cream has brought back all of its holiday flavors so that there’s something for everyone. This includes Apple Pie Cobbler, Peppermint Stick, Pumpkin Pie and Pure Cinnamon.

And Perry’s has introduced limited-edition Friendsgiving, a new tradition with your chosen family. Available in 1.5 quarts, Friendsgiving is almond ice cream with blackberry swirls and sugar cookie dough pieces. 

Now I need to run to the store and stock up for the weekend. I purchased a stand-alone freezer for the winter. Samples welcomed! Stay well and sane, and especially safe! Ice cream helps. Ice cream matters. 

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