Friday, May 15, 2020

A Sneak Peek at the Summer 2020 Ice Cream Season; It’s Time to Start Planning for 2021

Ice cream is in demand. While many scoop shops and street vendors remain closed because of quarantine orders, retail and online---yes, online—sales of ice cream are breaking records. It’s no wonder. Ice cream is comforting. I think most of us can appreciate a little mood bolster during these uncertain times.

Ice cream sales were up 27.4% (volume) and 34.9% (dollar), according to IRI data, provided courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Association, for the week ending May 3, 2020, as compared to the same seven-day period in 2019. In the previous week, sales were up 41.5% (volume) and 49.3% (dollar).

Dairy dollar sales overall have outperformed the total store in velocity for each of the past seven weeks and for 2020 year-to-date. In the latest week, total dairy sales were up 26.8% compared to the same week last year, while total store sales were up 15.4%. Consumers are not willing to sacrifice the basics during this time. (Ice cream is proving to be a necessity.) Increased cooking and baking have contributed to these large dairy increases, as dairy is an ingredient in many home-prepared foods.

Online ice cream sales are faring well for many players, as consumers find that sending a cooler (with dry ice) to family or friends for a birthday, graduation or simply for encouragement is a gift well received. (Thanks to a number of you who have offered me a tasting. I just don’t have freezer space.)

Earlier this year, Alden’s Organic had been working with Healthy Goodness, a frozen food fulfillment service specializing in natural foods, to make its newly launched Dairy Free line available for purchase online. When the pandemic hit, instead of pausing, Alden’s knew they needed to go all in and added all 46 SKUs to the e-commerce platform.

“Even during these challenging times we knew we needed to push ourselves to make this happen if we could,” says Eric Eddings, president and CEO of Alden’s. “E-comm frozen sales are up 31% since the COVID crisis, and we think this is a trend that will continue even after we recover from it.”

Alden’s Organic expects e-commerce to supplement its national grocery distribution, which remains and will continue to be the mainstay of the business. The company also has plans to launch new products through both channels in the near future.

Lots of new ice cream products have started rolling out to retail freezers, which may be contributing to some of the sales growth. New products attract consumers’ attention. It raises their curiosity and invites purchase. This is especially true during these trying, boring and repetitive times, which for many feels like Bill Murray’s experience in Groundhog Day. New ice cream products bring a little bit of excitement to the day, breaking up the monotony.

While all of the innovations entering the marketplace were developed and likely even produced prior to that early March closing of the country, there are many noticeable themes, which happen to be relevant to the current situation. Funny how that happens!

1. The first is lots of bright and bold colors. From birthday cake to unicorn, there’s a lot of color in new ice cream products. Color lifts spirits. Pink, red and various berry colors are also prominent. Think ruby red chocolate and rose wine. (Spirits lift spirits, too.)

Häagen-Dazs, a brand of Vevey, Switzerland-based Nestlé, added two new flavors to its Spirits collection. The Rosé and Cream flavor is wine-infused sweet cream ice cream folded together with a refreshingly tart rosé-flavored swirl. The Whiskey Hazelnut Latte ice cream is a spiked-latte-inspired treat, featuring whiskey-infused coffee ice cream blended with ribbons of hazelnut fudge and chocolate espresso flakes. All the products contain less than 0.5% alcohol by volume, according to the company.

The brand is also growing its multi-texture Trio Crispy Layers line with Ruby Cacao Crackle Pistachio Sweet Cream. 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.

Serendipity Ice Cream is getting magical with Unicorn Bliss Sundae. It is a whimsical combination of vanilla ice cream mixed with pink and blue cookie dough, topped off with a magical glittery unicorn swirl.

HP Hood is growing its New England Creamery sub-brand with limited-edition Unicorn Confetti Light Ice Cream. A number of the brand’s flavors focus on New England nostalgia. New Boston Common Cow Chow, for example, is corn cereal-flavored reduced-fat ice cream with pieces of chocolaty sugar cones, peanut butter swirl and chocolate cookie crumble swirl.

Blue Bell’s newest ice cream flavor is Confetti Cake. It is cake batter ice cream combined with confetti cake pieces and multi-colored sprinkles, all surrounded by a blue icing swirl. This limited-edition item comes in half-gallon cartons.

“We have combined two party favorites, cake and ice cream, to create a flavor that is as colorful as it is delicious,” says Carl Breed, corporate sales manager. “And, it tastes exactly like a cake. Confetti Cake is light and has the perfect amount of sweetness.

“Our Confetti Cake cartons will be hard to miss at your local store,” he says. “The background is a blue icing covered in confetti sprinkles.”

Blue Bell has two other cake-inspired ice cream flavors currently in stores. Cookie Cake is a sweet cream ice cream loaded with chocolate chip cookie cake pieces and swirls of chocolate and vanilla icing. Red Velvet Cake is a red velvet cake ice cream with pieces of red velvet cake and a cream cheese icing swirl. Both flavors are sold in pint and half-gallon sizes.

Color is in foodservice, too. Hamburger Stand and Wienerschnitzel, both part of The Galardi Group, now offers the Froot Loops Dipped Cone and Shake. It’s the company’s creamy soft-serve combined with real Froot Loops.

2. There’s also a great deal of fruit, even some vegetables, finding its way into ice cream. Whole food nutrition gives consumers permission to indulge. Parents appreciate getting some extra produce into their kids’ diets, especially during these activity-deprived times, when many have become couch potatoes.

U.K. grocer Waitrose Partners is debuting store branded Scrumptious Summer Blueberry Crumble Ice Cream. It’s one of 70 limited-edition products designed to uplift spirits. The new range focuses on nostalgic flavors and classic recipes, all with a modern twist.

“This summer, more than ever, we know our customers will be spending more time at home, in their gardens or outdoor spaces, enjoying the sunshine,” says Beth Elliot, brand manager. “Summer dining is a fast-growing area for us, and we know our customers want to shop in more convenient and quicker ways right now. We’ve reflected this by creating a range of ready-to-eat food and quick-to-prepare dishes which are tasty, exciting, foodie and fun, making them the perfect options for carpet picnics and barbecues.

“By putting all our summer products in an eye-catching, bright design, it helps our customers to shop quickly for food and drink and the innovative dishes and playful combinations showcase the very best flavors to brighten up summer with,” she says.

Peekaboo just launched Unicorn Swirl with Hidden Zucchini and Cookie Dough with Hidden Zucchini at Target stores throughout the U.S. With the new flavors comes a packaging makeover with whimsical, eye-catching graphics to better appeal to youngsters. The two new flavors join the original five, which debuted two years ago. 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.

3. Many 2020 flavors are “two-fers,” a dessert within a dessert. Think cake, cobbler and cookie.

Velvet Ice Cream is doing this with two new fruit-forward dessert flavors that celebrate the tastes of spring and summer. Blackberry Cobbler is creamy vanilla ice cream swirled with blackberry sauce and chunks of crisp cobbler. Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream is cheesecake ice cream, swirls of blueberry, bits of graham cracker and chunks of decadent cheesecake.

4. There’s not a lot of dark flavor innovation. Of course, chocolate is not going away, but in many instances it’s a layer, a swirl or an inclusion.

Unilever’s is growing its successful Talenti Layers line that launched last year. There are four new offerings, all showcased in the brand’s signature clear pint container.

Coffee Cookie Crumble is the brand’s take on an Affogato. It is made with fair trade Brazilian and Colombian coffee beans and traditional Italian amaretti cookies. The classic coffee and ice cream dessert comes to life with layers of cold brew gelato, chocolate flakes, chocolate coffee sauce, vanilla bean gelato and amaretti cookie pieces.

Banana Caramel Crunch was inspired by the classic southern dessert of banana pudding. Talenti’s unique twist combines indulgent layers of banana pudding gelato, pie crust pieces, dulce de leche and more pie crust pieces.

Lemon Berry Pie is lemon zest steeped in fresh cream, milk and sugar to create lemon gelato. This gets paired with graham pieces, blueberry sauce and pie crust cookies.

The first and only dairy-free Talenti Layers option is Coconut Chocolate Cookie Layer. Inspired by coconut macaroons, the new offering is crafted with real coconuts from the Philippines and features coconut sorbetto, oat crisps, dairy-free hot fudge and chocolate cookie pieces.
Turkey Hill Dairy is adding four varieties to its Trio’politan line, which made its debut two years ago in five varieties. The concept is a blend of three classic and bold flavors in each container that take Neapolitan’s traditional recipe to nontraditional levels.

“Trio’politan is about having choices and having fun,” says John Cox, president. “The flavors were chosen based on their ability to complement each other but also be strong enough to stand on their own for ice cream lovers who might ‘selectively scoop’ to get the flavor they really want.”

The new offerings are: Caramel, Chocolate and Vanilla (caramel ice cream with caramel swirl, chocolate ice cream and vanilla-flavored ice cream with dark chocolate chips); Caramel Macchiato (coffee ice cream with caramel swirl, chocolate ice cream and caramel ice cream with chocolate crunchies); Coffee Cake (cake batter-flavored ice cream with cinnamon graham cracker swirl, vanilla-flavored ice cream and cinnamon ice cream with cinnamon chips); and Triple Vanilla (vanilla bean ice cream, brown sugar bourbon vanilla-flavored ice cream with vanilla cookie crumb swirl and homemade vanilla ice cream).

Wells Enterprises Inc., is adding four new offerings to its popular single-serve Blue Bunny Load’d Sundaes lines. Chocolate Caramel Pretzel is vanilla-flavored frozen dairy dessert, sea salt caramel and fudge swirls, salty pretzel bark, milk chocolaty pretzel balls and chocolaty sea salt caramel bunnies.

French Silk Pie is French silk chocolate-flavored frozen dairy dessert, whipped créme and fudge swirls, dark chocolate flakes, pie pieces, dark chocolate curls and chocolaty fudge bunnies.

S'more S'mores is graham-flavored frozen dairy dessert, marshmallow and graham swirls, chocolaty chunks and chocolaty marshmallow bunnies.

Turtle Cheesecake is cheesecake-flavored frozen dairy dessert, caramel and fudge swirls, cheesecake pieces, chocolaty pecans, pecans and chocolaty sea salt caramel bunnies.

5. And lastly, while better-for-you ice cream remains a healthy sector of the category, pardon the pun, indulgence reigns. In many instances, better-for-you has evolved into simpler, cleaner recipes.

That’s what Crystal Creamery is all about this ice cream season. The Modesto, Calif.-based company is phasing in its new and improved ice cream formulations that also come in updated packaging. The new recipe uses the simplest of ingredients, such as cream, sugar and milk sourced from local family farms, while excluding artificial flavors, coloring, sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, synthetic gums or mono and diglycerides.

“We spent a tremendous amount of time and care listening very carefully to consumers through marketing research and learned more about their desire for transparency and clean ingredients,” says Brian Carden, senior director of sales. “After many product trials and fine tuning, our team is proud to be able to have landed on the most delicious, creamiest formula that consumers have come to expect from Crystal Creamery.”

There are 29 flavors of premium ice cream available including classics like Vanilla and Rocky Road but also newer and indulgent flavors like Caramel Pretzel, Chocolate Avalanche and Moose Tracks.

In addition to the recipe reformulation, the Crystal Creamery ice cream carton has been modernized with a fresh, updated package design that continues the brand’s iconic depiction of its heritage and local roots.

Better-for-you ice cream brand Enlightened has partnered with Delish, one of the fastest-growing food social media sites in the world, to bring keto-friendly P. B. Cookie & Brownie Dough ice cream. It is made with vanilla ice cream packed with peanut butter cookie dough, brownie dough, chocolate chips and a rich peanut butter swirl. Each serving has only one gram of net carbs and less than one gram of sugar. It’s also gluten-free and uses monk fruit and erythritol, which are zero-calorie natural sweeteners that don’t cause spikes in blood sugar.

It sells for about $5.99 at Whole Foods Market. It is also available online through Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods delivery partners, as well as directly from Enlightened.

Expect to see more philanthropic products, too. People feel good when they help others.

Tops Friendly Markets is supporting Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center with the latest flavor in its private-label Tops ice cream lineup. The Williamsville, N.Y.-based retailer has introduced Orange DreamCycle Ice Cream, with a portion of the proceeds from the flavor going to benefit Roswell Park.

The product is being introduced to commemorate the 25th year of the annual Ride for Roswell, which the retailer has long sponsored. The product is a light vanilla ice cream split with a creamy light orange ice cream. It contains no artificial flavors or partially hydrogenated oils, and is free of high-fructose corn syrup.

Get creative. Put your ice cream to work.

Need inspiration? Balchem can help. The company’s lab team members focus on providing customized, personal service to help ice cream innovators create unique flavor and texture experiences to help them stand out in the freezer. Link HERE for more information. Thank you Balchem for sponsoring this blog.

Stay well. Stay Safe. Stay sane.

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