Friday, December 11, 2020

Ice Cream Flavor Trends 2021: Everything Old Will Be New Again—Just Add a Spin or a Twist


Tom Vilsack, soon-to-be former president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and former Iowa governor, will once again lead the Department of Agriculture under soon-to-be President Joe Biden. He previously held the position of U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary for eight years under President Barack Obama. President-Elect Biden chose Vilsack so he can “hit the ground running.” Everything old will be new again.

“With an estimated one in six Americans and a quarter of U.S. children facing a hunger crisis, farmers reeling and rural communities struggling to weather the pain and economic fallout of the pandemic, Vilsack will bring the experience and bold thinking needed to deliver immediate relief to farmers, ranchers, producers and families all across the country,” President-Elect Biden said in a news release announcing the nomination. Vilsack represents rural America, has a deep knowledge of the department and he can hopefully fix what got broken the past four years. Oh, and by the way, he is one of the dairy industry’s biggest advocates. 

During a packed general session at Dairy Forum 2017, soon after joining USDEC, Vilsack was asked about his favorite ice cream flavor. He responded, “How can you pick one? I love them all.” He went on to say that when given the choice between white and chocolate milk, hands down, he picks chocolate.  

Vilsack, like many consumers, has strong flavor preferences with some foods and is more willing to explore with others. That’s why making a flavor connection can be very important when introducing a new product to the marketplace. In 2021, everything old will be new again, much like President-Elect Biden and Vilsack returning to the White House. 

There are many flavor forecasts circulating in the food and beverage industry. Most are not directly relevant to dairy foods, such as ice cream, milk and yogurt, which have a smooth, creamy, white canvas just waiting to be flavored. With dairy, old flavors are new again…but are coming with a spin or a twist. After all, 2020 turned us upside down, and everything is a bit different these days. 

For many, ice cream is a comfort food. During the pandemic, consumers sought out nostalgic flavors to provide them with some familiarity and consistency in life. Some wanted a little more, such as flavor adventure during uncertain times when travel was grounded and dining out banned. This will continue in 2021.

Marketers brought taglines, such as Classic, Blue Ribbon, Everyday Goodness, Old Fashioned and Original, front and center on packaging to connect with shoppers and offer them some comfort. We are starting to see more of this with updated packaging and graphics. Marketers are also repositioning classic concepts while taking old favorites and giving them new life. 

Serendipity Brands, for example, recently partnered with Actress and Singer Selena Gomez. As the company’s most recent investor and now co-owner, Gomez helped the brand launch Cookies & Cream Remix. The flavor was inspired by global music phenomenon BLACKPINK and Gomez’s latest single “Ice Cream.” Cookies & Cream Remix is made with pink vanilla ice cream, crunchy cookie bites and swirling gobs of gooey fudge. 

Nestle Ice Cream will soon be rolling out its Rocky Road Collection under both the Dreyer’s and Edy’s brands. (Details will be shared next week as a Daily Dose of Dairy.) The collection includes Brownie Brick Road, Caramel Pretzel Path and Cookie Cobblestone and comes in 14-ounce cups and 1.5-quart tubs. 

Another classic with opportunity for flavor spins is Butter Pecan. Expect to see other “brown” flavors be mixed in, such as maple, honey and bourbon. Alcohol flavors—with and without real booze--will continue to thrive in ice cream, as many find them to be calming and soothing…a way to destress after a long day in the makeshift basement office. 

Speaking of bourbon, Ben & Jerry’s is growing its Netflix flavor collection with Punch Line, a comedic duo of brown butter bourbon and almond ice creams with roasted almonds and chuckles of cherries—because we all could use a few laughs these days. 

For the holidays, HP Hood’s Brigham’s brand is offering limited-edition Frozen Pudding. It’s a spin on the classic dessert and features a rum-flavored ice cream and candied fruit. 

And, in anticipation of cherry blossom time in the nation’s capital, Hood developed Green’s White House Cherry. This is vanilla ice cream with red maraschino cherry halves, an old favorite with a new name. There’s something comforting about knowing what’s inside. Cheers! 

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