Friday, January 11, 2019

Ice Cream Innovations 2019: The Year for “Inspired Ice Cream”

Photo source: McConnell’s

Happy New Year! Hoping you had a great holiday season and are ready to get creative in 2019! I’m here to assist with innovation inspiration. Got an idea? A question? Interested in being a sponsor/advertiser to keep this innovation tool available to the industry? Please contact me--Donna Berry-- HERE.

Let’s kick off the New Year with a discussion on ice cream. With total retail ice cream sales relatively flat—this has been the story for decades—it’s time to face reality. Per capita consumption is declining and will likely continue on this path. It’s not as if consumers don’t crave, purchase and enjoy ice cream. But rather than eating large volumes of mediocre product, today they seek out premium product and enjoy it in smaller portions.

It’s called mindful eating. It’s something we all should be doing, according to most health experts.

The industry needs to recognize that growth of one brand or flavor comes at the expense of another. While basic vanilla and chocolate varieties are not going away, what grabs shoppers’ attention and gets them to buy is “Inspired Ice Cream.”
Visit DOUBLE H PLASTICS at ProFood Tech March 26-28, 2019, in Chicago. Booth #1031.

Trends both in the freezer and in other supermarket departments suggest there are six “inspirations” driving innovation in the ice cream category. With all innovations, the package plays a pivotal role in communicating the inspiration. Treat the package like a billboard and use it wisely.

Here are the six inspirations with a brief description, followed by a dozen recent rollouts exemplifying the Inspired Ice Cream movement. 

1. Locally Inspired: Sourcing ingredients—or other essentials, even the artwork that adorns the package-- from local businesses builds a connection with the shopper. The locality need not be nearby to the shopper. The shopper simply wants to know that the ice cream manufacturer supports its local community.    

2. Culinary Inspired: What’s cooking? The flavors of breakfast, lunch and dinner—or a chef’s secret ingredients--come alive in frozen desserts.

3. Globally Inspired: Full blown ethnic recipes, or melding something foreign with the familiar, provides the consumer with flavor adventure.

4. Seasonally Inspired: Go traditional or get bizarre. These limited-edition offerings invite shoppers to purchase.

5. Health/Diet Inspired: Stop focusing on simply the calorie and protein content of better-for-you pints. Speak to the shopper. Add extra value. Maybe eliminate the lactose or add probiotics for digestive health. What about including whole fruit or vegetable nutrition?

6. Sensory Inspired: It’s all about flavor and texture that lingers. From sweet meets heat (link HERE for some flavor combination inspiration) to chewy, crunchy, crackling and flavor bursts. Think of a swirl of bacon-infused, maple-flavored overnight oats. Other textures that linger include shredded coconut and citrus zest. Figs, pears and seeds/grains deliver unusual mouthfeels that ignite the senses.

Humphry Slocombe, one of San Francisco’s unconventional ice creameries, returns to The Winter Fancy Food Show, which kicks off this Sunday. (Hope to see you there.) After celebrating 10 years of crafting rebellious, ultra-premium and chef-driven ice cream creations and winning the 2018 Gold Sofi Award for its Black Sesame flavor, Co-founders Jake Godby and Sean Vahey are excited to share their plans for the New Year. Humphry Slocombe has established itself as a trailblazer for its use of inventive ingredients to create bold flavors that truly take the scoop to the next level, and the brand is excited to keep the decade-long momentum going with new flavors and experiences never seen before.

Located at booth 5582, Humphry Slocombe will unveil a surprise flavor as part of its partnership with the Emmy winning series Queer Eye. The flavor will represent the effervescent nature of the show and include an unexpected marriage of ingredients. Launching in March, the new flavor will be available in Humphry Slocombe scoop shops and select retailers. (Watch for it featured soon as a Daily Dose of Dairy.)

In addition, Humphry Slocombe will showcase a brand-new flavor: Strawberry Blondie, a strawberry ice cream embedded with white chocolate chip blondies.

Photo source: Double H Plastics

The company is also introducing a new single-serve cup option, which is a perfectly sized scoop featuring a lid with a built-in spoon, perfect for indulging in ice cream on the go. The new size will make its debut in four flavors: Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee, Malted Milk Chocolate, Secret Breakfast and Strawberry White Chocolate Chip.

Marietta, Ga.-based High Road Craft Ice Cream, which recently acquired Ciao Bella Gelato, has big plans for 2019. Executive Chef Keith Schroeder, co-founder of High Road with his wife Nicki, will be reinforcing what the two ice cream brands are best known for, and that is creating innovative flavors inspired by, and for, chefs.

“With our acquisition of Ciao Bella, we’ve found the perfect complement to the High Road Craft brand, helping to make us a broader player in the craft ice cream, gelato, sorbet and novelty categories,” says Keith. “We’re going back to focusing on the types of flavors that put our company on the map like Blueberry Ricotta, Matcha Coconut and Caramel Pecan.”

With the same uncompromising dedication to quality that High Road is known for, the Schroeders plan on returning the Ciao Bella brand to its origins with classic, high-end (yet playful) Italian-inspired flavors, such as Fior di Latte, Hazelnut, Espresso Gelati, and Pear & Peppercorn sorbetto, all packed in revamped sophisticated paper pints.

Among the many innovations and product introductions planned, High Road will be introducing the first superpremium Helados pint to the U.S. market. Helados La Neta will celebrate the flavors of native Mexico, including Horchata, Avocado and Mexican Chocolate. Watch for the line featured in the near future as a Daily Dose of Dairy.

Keith is often asked how he and the High Road chefs come up with their creative flavors.

“Listening to chefs and customers has always driven flavor decisions,” he explains. “We’re always sensitive to hearing what flavors, mouthfeel and taste experiences people enjoy, and then going out of our way to use ingredients that speak to them.

“I enjoy shining a light on great cuisines, ingredients and foodstuffs from around the world,” he says. “There’s a language of food rich with stories to be told, and those are conversations we want to be engaged in.” 

Bourbon Burnt Sugar, for example, gives High Road a chance to highlight sorghum, an under-appreciated sweetener with roots in the Deep South. Cherry Almond Chip speaks to the classic pairing of dark cherries with almonds, “whose respective flavor compounds work together like a great jazz chord,” explains Keith, ever the creative food scientist (and author of the James Beard Award-winning book, Mad Delicious: The Science of Making Healthy Food Taste Amazing).

Whether from Mexico, Italy, the American South, Africa or Asia, or beyond, High Road Craft Brands’ ingredients are sourced the world over. Keith and Nicki have introduced a series of sourcing journeys, traveling the globe not just to discover the finest ingredients, but to interact with the people who grow them, the local flavors they produce and the stories they tell.

“On our recent vanilla sourcing journey to Tanzania we spent a week living, eating, dancing, exploring and harvesting with our vanilla-sourcing partner,” says Nicki. “We didn’t speak the language, but we sure felt the joy they shared, and we hope that’s the emotion people get from the ice cream.” 

Salt & Straw, an Oregon-based creamery with stores up and down the west coast, with a few in San Francisco--make plans to check one out during a break from the Winter Fancy Food Show—shows us that anything is possible in ice cream. .

This past winter holiday season the company served a five-course Thanksgiving dinner, but in ice cream form. Offerings included savory courses such as Salted Caramel Turkey, which featured buttery turkey brittle folded into a turkey fat caramel ice cream, and Roasted Peach & Sage Cornbread Stuffing, which was sage-infused ice cream with cornbread cookies and spiced peach jam.

On the sweeter side, there was Sweet Potato Casserole featuring maple pecan ice cream with a light ribbon of maple syrup marshmallow fluff and homemade candied pecans. Spiced Goat Cheese & Pumpkin Pie was a goat cheese-flavored ice cream with swirls of pumpkin pie filling. For the vegan at the table, there was Roasted Cranberry Sauce Sorbet made from roasted cranberries, cranberry juice and candied cranberry jam, all made from Washington State-sourced berries.

There have been many retail packaged “Inspired Ice Creams” to hits freezers the past few months.

Serendipity 3 is a dynamic new line that takes inspiration from the namesake iconic New York City restaurant. The pint line is rolling out in eight varieties.

They are:
  • Birthday Cake: Cake-flavored ice cream with swirls of pink frosting, cake pieces and sprinkles
  • Café Espresso Chip: Coffee ice cream with chocolate chunks
  • Forbidden Broadway Sundae: Chocolate-flavored ice cream with brownie pieces and fudge swirls
  • Frrrozen Hot Chocolate: Hot chocolate-flavored ice cream with whipped cream swirl and chocolate shavings
  • Humble Pie: Peanut butter ice cream with peanut butter swirls, chocolate chunks and graham pieces
  • Outrageous Banana Split: Banana-flavored ice cream with fudge swirls, walnuts and strawberries
  • Strawberry Fields Sundae: Strawberry ice cream with strawberries and cheesecake pieces
  • Vanilla Vogue: Vanilla ice cream with Madagascar vanilla

New Peekaboo Organic Ice Cream with Hidden Veggies is the brainchild of Founder and CEO Jessica Levinson, who wanted to get more vegetables into her family’s iet. After much tinkering, she created five flavors of Peekaboo. They are: Chocolate with Hidden Cauliflower, Cotton Candy with Hidden Beets, Mint Chip with Hidden Spinach, Strawberry with Hidden Carrot, and Vanilla with Hidden Zucchini.

Sensory-inspired Slow Churned Triple Filled, which is sold by Nestle under both the Dreyer’s and Edy’s brands, is a half-the-fat ice cream that contains three cores of gooey deliciousness. The four varieties are:
  • Chocolate Fudge Cores features cookies and cream and chocolate ice creams with three chocolate fudge cores. 
  • Creamy Chocolatey Cores features red velvet and vanilla ice creams with three chocolate fudge cores. 
  • Rich Caramel Cores features cookie dough ice cream with three caramel cores. 
  • Salted Caramel Cores features caramel and vanilla ice creams with three salted caramel cores. 
Lactose-free formulating and labeling should be considered for all dairy foods innovations, as digestive health is on top of mind among consumers. By eliminating lactose—a disaccharide unique to all mammalian milk—from dairy foods, you may prevent consumers from switching to dairy alternatives, when the sole reason for the swap is to avoid lactose.

That’s the goal of Beckon Ice Cream: to enable lactose-sensitive ice cream lovers the opportunity to have real dairy ice cream once again. The company uses traditional ice cream ingredients, including milk and cream. With the help of added lactase, the company eliminates lactose from the product. This process also adds some natural sweetness to the ice cream. Beckon pints come in five flavors: Chocolate, Espresso, Mint Chip, Sea Salt Chocolate Chip and Vanilla.

Locally, culinary and health-inspired Culture Republick from Unilever is a line of probiotic ice cream pints. Beyond having live probiotic cultures in the ice cream, the brand aims to support culture in everything it does. It collaborated with emerging artists to design each pint, giving these artists a canvas for their work, complete with their signature and information on pack. Additionally, 10% of the brand’s profits will support the arts in local communities, with all charitable donations made possible by the Unilever Foundation.

“Culture Republick was created with a distinct purpose in mind,” says Leslie Miller, marketing director of ice cream at Unilever. “We believe that humanity could use a bit more brightness. By combining our passions for culture and ice cream, we intend to do our part in making people feel more balanced, inspired and connected.”

Culture Republick is currently available in seven unique flavors and is the first premium light ice cream brand with probiotics. Each pint contains three billion live active cultures, 400 to 500 calories, 16 to 18 grams of protein, 11 to 12 grams of fiber and no artificial sweeteners.

The unexpected flavor combinations are:

  • Chocolate & Cherry: chocolate light ice cream with extra cocoa mixed with cherry light ice cream containing Fair Trade Bordeaux cherry chunks. Pack art is by Hawnuh Lee, a designer and illustrator based in Portland. She creates cohesive visual stories by breaking elements down into designs, textures and tones.
  • Cold Brew & Chocolate Chi: cold brew light ice cream made with Fair Trade Brazilian and Colombian coffee extract and loaded with chocolate chips. Pack art is by Paulina Ho, a California-born, Texas-raised, and New York City-based artist who incorporates a wide spectrum of images and symbols, leaving the viewer to connect them and create more meaning.
  • Lemon & Graham: sweet lemon light ice cream, made with real lemon puree and lemon juice concentrate, and textured with graham cracker crumb swirl. Pack art by is Jason Naylor, an artist, designer and creative director based in Brooklyn. His street art murals carry a distinct style of upbeat messages and colorful visuals.
  • Matcha & Fudge: matcha tea light ice cream with swirls of fudge. Pack art is by Fiona Chinkan, a visual artist based in Brooklyn, who uses lines and forms to express herself and interpret the world around her. Her style pulls inspiration from the embellishments of graffiti writing.
  • Milk & Honey: sweet cream light ice cream swirled with wildflower honey. Pack art is by Joe Geis, an artist, designer and woodworker based in Brooklyn. Joe’s artwork is all about movement and balance.
  • Pistachio & Caramel: chopped pistachios in a pistachio light ice cream with added swirls of salty caramel. Pack art is by Teri Kaplan Trigalo, a creative content director based in New York City. Born in South Africa, Teri has been painting ever since she could hold a brush, now creating large-scale abstract pieces inspired by her surroundings.
  • Turmeric Chai & Cinnamo: turmeric blended with a chai spice light ice cream with swirls of cinnamon streusel. Pack art is by Sarah Dewlin, a Brooklyn-based artist who specializes in unique geometric shapes and compositions, with natural edges and organic imperfections.

Brazilian artists were enlisted by Häagen-Dazs to create this past holiday season’s ice cream cakes. The brand’s global campaign is all about being “extraordinarily luxurious.” The company decided to showcase a pure, refined cake as if it were a precious gem that you discover when opening a box. Simplicity was a key driver in order to focus on the quality of ingredients.

There were two cake varieties offered this year. Belgian Chocolate & Vanilla is soft brownie with crispy pieces paired with Belgian chocolate and vanilla ice creams. The exterior is textured with praline iced mousse and given a twist of originality with a mango and passionfruit confit.

Frozen Yogurt & Raspberry Sorbet is crunchy biscuit spiced with ginger and cinnamon paired frozen yogurt and raspberry sorbet, which gives it a light touch. The surprise center is bursting with a delicate jasmine cream lifted by a berry confit.

The artists, the Campana Brothers, describe the cakes as, “Intriguing is the idea of a surface that stimulates all of the senses. The look of a new facet of cutting a diamond stimulates the ultimate sense of real luxury, which becomes a feeling of crescendos. Like an avalanche of sensation, like a wave that wants to break, but keeps the highest position for being able to enjoy the shape and the taste explosion.

McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams is launching the Winter Collection at the Winter Fancy Food Show (Booth 6240). Made completely from scratch using Central Coast grass-grazed milk and cream, the seasonal flavors were inspired by sensory-stimulating citrus fruits. The three flavors are:

  • Blood Orange features the distinct and intense orange-meets-berry flavors of Moro blood oranges.
  • Vanilla Grapefruit combines grapefruit’s tart sweetness with smooth, sweet, vanilla-scented cream. 
  • Winter Pear Crisp blends a delicate purée of D'Anjou pears with a swirl of homemade pear jam and crispy oatmeal crumbles.

And here are two first-of-their-kind ice creams. NightFood Inc., a snack food company dedicated to providing consumers delicious, better-for-you, sleep-friendly choices for evening snacking, is rolling out Nighttime Ice Cream. Each pint has a fun, nighttime-themed name, and delivers ice cream indulgence with a sleep-friendly recipe for both kids and adults. The eight flavors are: After-Dinner Mint Chip, Breakfast in Bed (maple-flavored waffle), Cherry Eclipse, Cold-Brew Decaf, Cookies n’ Dreams, Full Moon Vanilla, Midnight Chocolate and Milk & Cookie Dough.

Nighttime ice cream means that NightFood’s team of sleep experts made sleep-friendly decisions regarding the recipe, according to Sean Folkson, CEO. Cherry Eclipse, for example, is made with nutrient-rich tart cherries, one of the few foods naturally high in melatonin (the hormone that triggers sleep) and the coffee ice cream is decaf.

UpStar Ice Cream now offers Keto Pint. This diet-inspired ice cream will be featured this coming week as a Daily Dose of Dairy. In the meantime, if you are at the Winter Fancy Food Show, you can experience the product firsthand in the Incubator Village.

Hope to see you in San Francisco!
Visit DOUBLE H PLASTICS at ProFood Tech March 26-28, 2019, in Chicago. Booth #1031.

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