Friday, September 21, 2018

Frozen Novelties: A growing category thanks to the snacking trend and limited editions

Cones, cups, push tubes, sandwiches, sticks, you name it. Frozen novelties, as the name suggests, are novel treats sold in the freezer. Currently they are a driver of ice cream category growth.

After years of declining sales, they snuck back up on us. The pint may be a powerful package size for flavor adventure, but that section of the freezer is overcrowded and can be overwhelming at times. Multi-pack novelties are an opportunity for expansion. And with some creative R&D, can be just as exciting as pints.

Frozen novelties have 40% share of the $10.7 billion retail ice cream/frozen novelty category, according to data from IRI for the year ending July 15, 2018. While packaged ice cream sales are up 1.9%, thanks to the power of the pint, frozen novelties are up 3.8%.

To read more about The Power of the Pint, link HERE.

It was not that long ago that the retail frozen novelty category was a shrinking business. That's because decades ago, frozen novelties were dominated by bold colors, cartoon characters and fun flavors…mostly designed for kids. But after moms started diligently reading ingredient statements and refusing to purchase products with artificial colors and chemical-sounding ingredients, product offerings started to dwindle. The category evolved to be mostly portion-controlled, low-fat “skinny” products designed for the mom rather than her kids.

Times have changed, again. And kudos to Wells Enterprises Inc., for contributing to this reinvention. The company has done a phenomenal job of making ice cream a snack, a refuel food and an indulgent treat. Data from IRI shows impressive double-digit retail sales growth for Wells, which will likely continue with all the innovations the company has had this past year.

It was about a year and a half ago that the company first rolled out Blue Bunny Bunny Snacks, and since the company has added new flavors to this one-of-a-kind product line. Bunny Snacks are individually wrapped 2.4-ounce ice cream treats sold in packs of six in resealable stand up pouches. Both the inner packaging and outer packaging is clear in order to let consumers see the product.

The company is also growing its Mini Swirls line. These snack-sized treats pack creamy, reduced-fat ice cream, sweet toppings, and tons of flavor into a mini ice cream cone. The two new flavors—Cinnamon Cereal and Mint Cookie Crunch--join Caramel, Chocolate and Vanilla. The cones are individually wrapped and sold in boxes of eight.

Blue Bunny Load’d Sundaes rolled out earlier this year. They are a shopping cart stopper when one is in the frozen department. The 8.5-ounce single-serve sundaes are loaded with tons of toppings and gooey swirls in soft, spoonable ice cream. The clear plastic domed cup showcases the inclusions.

Wells Enterprises invested considerable research into developing the Chilly Cow better-for-you brand. Another first, and so far only-of-its-kind, Chilly Cow is made with ultra-filtered milk, which boosts protein content while providing for 55% fewer calories, 70% less fat and 60% less sugar than regular ice cream. The new brand comes in seven flavors, as a two-pack of half pints and in novelty bars. The flavors are: Brown Butter Salted Caramel, Chocolate Brownie Batter, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Cookies N’ Cream, Mint Dark Chocolate Chip, Sweet Cream Peanut Butter and Vanilla Graham Swirl. An 8-ounce tub flags that it provides 12 to 13 grams of protein, depending on flavor.

Turkey Hill is also shaking up the novelty case with Decadent Delights. The new line of indulgent, sophisticated treats blends premium ice cream with an abundance of fruit to create a four-flavor selection of bars and three flavors of individual-serving parfaits.

The parfaits come in three flavors: Lemon Blueberry, Mixed Berry and Strawberry, with each 4-ounce cup containing 250 to 270 calories, 12 to 13 grams of fat and 2 to 3 grams of protein, depending on variety.

Lemon Blueberry is lemon-flavored ice cream with ribbons of blueberry puree topped with whipped topping and lemon chips.  Mixed Berry is mixed berry-flavored ice cream with ribbons of black raspberry puree topped with whipped topping and chocolate chips. Strawberry is strawberry-flavored ice cream with ribbons of strawberry puree topped with whipped topping and chocolate chips. All those goodies are on full display to the shopper, as the product is sold in packs of three clear plastic cups.

The Decadent Delights bars include Cherry, Chocolate Covered Strawberry, Coconut and Tropical Mango. Each flavor is tailored for audiences looking for an indulgent dessert packed with fruit, chocolate and other premium ingredients. The Cherry bar, for example, features white chocolate ice cream, swirled with chocolate hazelnut and cherry ribbons and is covered in a triple layer of nougat, cherry and milk chocolate rolled in cherry pieces.

Alden’s Organic grew its frozen novelty line earlier this year with products such as the Birthday Cake Ice Cream Sandwich, which is birthday cake ice cream with ribbons of purple icing, sandwiched between two vanilla wafers. There’s also Orange Cream Bars, a nostalgic combination of tangy orange sherbet swirled with classic vanilla ice cream.

And right now, Yasso is getting ready to roll out its first-ever line of limited-edition seasonal flavors. The three new flavors for fall and winter are: Peppermint Crunch, Pumpkin Cheesecake and Sugar Cookie. Pumpkin Cheesecake will hit shelves this month, with Sugar Cookie and Peppermint Crunch following in November, all while supplies last.

Novelties make sense for limited-time offerings (LTOs). They are showing up all times of the year, and are proving to be successful for marketers who choose to invest in rapid turn-around innovation. The concept is classic supply and demand. Shoppers recognize if they don’t purchase the LTO when it hits the store shelf, it may not be available the next visit.

When a product is only available for a short period of time, consumers feel more adventurous and are willing to take the chance and give the product a try. The urgency to purchase provides permission to explore. An LTO invites current consumers to try something new, and at the same time, it may bring in lapsed users or new users of the brand. An LTO also may simply create excitement for a brand, ultimately building brand recognition to attract the consumer at another time. It also serves as a testing ground, to gauge consumer feedback as to if the product should become a regular offering.

It’s time to get novel in the freezer!

Need Technical Ice Cream Innovating Assistance?

The Frozen Dessert Center, housed within the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Food Science, will hold its second annual Frozen Dessert Center Conference October 22 to 23 on the UW-Madison campus. Speakers will address the scientific, manufacturing and technical aspects involved in the production of ice cream and other frozen desserts.

Participants will be led through an ice cream sensory evaluation and taken on a guided tour of the UW-Madison’s Babcock Hall Dairy Plant and the Frozen Dessert Center’s pilot plant and lab space.

The conference is designed for manufacturers, product developers, researchers, distributors and sales personnel involved in the field of ice cream and frozen desserts. Attendees will gain relevant and up-to-date information on production, ingredients, equipment and distribution.

For more information, link HERE.

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