Friday, April 7, 2023

Seven Themes Fueling Ice Cream Innovation in 2023

Today’s blog has an accompanying 9-minute presentation that may be viewed HERE or by linking on the image above.

It may not feel like summer is near, but it is, and crowded ice cream freezers confirm it. The frozen desserts space is on fire this year with innovations all over the board to not let consumers get bored. And consumers are buying in!

Maybe it’s because those chest freezers we all bought during the pandemic have finally emptied and we are fighting home-cooking fatigue by returning to restaurants. So why not stock up on all the frozen creations rolling out, many of which are only being produced in limited batches? Buy now. Eat later!

Here are seven directions that innovative ice cream marketers are taking this ice cream season. 

1. Deliver an Experience.
Consumers are looking for unique flavor and texture experiences. Maybe it’s heat with sweet, popping boba or crunchy fudge variegate. Layers of flavors and textures that require a spoon to experience or savory, unexpected tastes that consumers may not want in ice cream, but curiosity gets them to purchase, especially when the experience is only available for a limited time. 

2. Create an Urgency to Purchase. 
Limited-edition ice cream flavors are all the rage. They create an urgency to purchase because the concept might be sold out during the next shopping trip. 

St. Louis-based micro-creamery Clementine’s Naughty & Nice Ice Cream is taking the limited-batch concept to a 30-day cycle with its new Zodiac Series, a monthly flavor release with an ice cream inspired by each new season’s astrological sign. The flavor--available at the company’s scoop shops for immediate consumption as well as in pre-packed pints ($12)--will highlight the personality profile of that particular sign. The series started on March 21 with a nod to Aries. 

“Pandan” represents the fearless and confident Aries willing to try new things. The flavor is made with fresh pandan leaves from Southeast Asia in a custom sweet cream base. The brilliant green hued ice cream is described as magnetizing, reflective of Aries’ dynamic energy.

“It’s a different way to connect with ice cream,” says Tamara Keefe, founder. “We can all find a little bit of ourselves in our horoscope readings, so it will be a fun test to see if we hit the mark of your favorite ice cream flavor profiles. We chose flavor profiles that represent the characteristics of an astrological sign.”

Here are the other flavors in the Zodiac Series and the company’s interpretation:

Taurus = Peanut Butter Pleasures. “We see your preference for a luxurious lifestyle, and we get it. You have a respectable balance between being laid-back and hard-working, and we want to help make that relaxation time even more enjoyable. Our Peanut Butter Pleasures flavor is the definition of decadence. Triple dark chocolate ice cream with a swirl of creamy, rich peanut butter. We also understand your fixation on stability. Take solace in knowing that your ice cream zodiac is inspired by our best-selling chocolate ice cream flavor, so have confidence in your dessert investment.” 

Gemini = Matcha Raspberry Sorbet. “You are a busy butterfly. Your life is so all over the place that you wish you could clone yourself. We’ve channeled the Gemini’s intrinsic duality into one sorbet with two different, yet complementary flavors: matcha green tea and fresh raspberry. The earthy matcha flavor shines with the fresh fruit pairing and makes for an irresistibly tart combination. We appreciate your adaptability to ever-changing situations, sass and being the life of the party.”

Cancer = Peachy Heat Cheesecake. “It might take us a while to break through your walls, but we’ll be glad when we do. Your gentle, genuine compassion makes everyone around you feel at home. Like your welcoming aura, your home is warm and inviting and serves as a sanctuary for all who visit. That’s why we are sharing a Peachy Heat Cheesecake ice cream with you. A decadent cream cheese ice cream with old school spicy peach jam that reminds us of dessert back at mom’s house.”

Leo = Lioness. “We respect your position as ‘king of the jungle’ in this life. Ambitious, courageous and loyal, you serve as an inspiration for leaders. You put your entire heart into your relationships and endeavors. You have many gifts to share with the world, and you do not let anyone forget them. Enjoy your lavish lifestyle, exceed your ambitious goals, and continue to push the boundaries. We’ll play a part with our Lioness flavor, a golden milk ice cream with a Lion’s mane sweet crumble. Because what else for the kings and queens of the celestial world?” 

Virgo = Baked Apple Betty. “Virgos are notoriously dependable and approach life with a keen sense of logic, which is why the heartwarming flavors of apple pie just make sense. Cinnamon ice cream with bits of homemade apple pie (butter crumb topping, sliced apples and a splash of orange juice) swirled in are the most poised of flavors for the understated Virgo.”

Libra = Grapefruit and Orange Blossom Sorbet. ”You understand the beauty in balance and harmony. Your empathy, charm and consideration make you the ultimate team player and sparks fly when you are paired with the right partner. The two unsuspecting partners right now are grapefruit and orange blossom. The balance between tart and sweet citrus will leave your taste buds tingling for more. You tend to appreciate the simple pleasures in life, and this flavor that tastes like a smile on a summer day, is a treat you’ll come back to again and again.”

Scorpio = Pomegranate Sorbet. ”You have a sharp edge in the best way. You value authenticity, commitment, and are always several steps ahead of others. You are a magnetic force that appears calm yet are intensely emotional and intuitive underneath the surface. What may look simple and plain from the outside is teeming with intrigue and zest. It’s the same situation when inspecting a pomegranate, which serves as a metaphor for the Scorpio experience. We present Pomegranate Sorbet, a sweet and sour ice cream that’s simple yet zippy and impressive.”
Sagittarius = Peppermint Crush. “You were born to explore and uncover the secret knowledge of the universe. Your free-ranging nature, passion and curiosity inspired us to look at an ancient plant associated with mystical healing powers and valuable flavoring. The result is a minty, cool peppermint ice cream sprinkled with peppermint candy and dark chocolate flakes. Grab a spoonful of this refreshing ice cream and dive into the history of botanicals in food, engage in a philosophical conversation with friends or jump to one of your several other current interests.” 

Capricorn = Cranberry Pistachio. “Capricorn, no need to be so serious. You appreciate structure and order as you set out to accomplish your goals, and strangers may see only your serious and confident persona. But we know about your secret wild side. You value structure, but love to add adventure and spontaneity occasionally. It’s why we’ve taken a classic, pistachio, and added a tart swirl of cranberry with graham cracker crumble sprinkled throughout for you. Make sure to take a break from your hardworking lifestyle to enjoy a moment of joy.”

Aquarius = Iced Mocha Sorbet. “Aquarius’ innovative and dominant mindset needs a caffeinated match. The Iced Mocha Sorbet is a robust touch of espresso, balanced with rich chocolate and a touch of sweetness.”

Pisces = Vegan Mint Chip. “Pisces love to teeter between the line of fantasy and reality. A crisp spearmint and peppermint coconut milk-based ice cream, swirling with pieces of dark mint chocolate bar is the perfect combination to a gentle adventurer.”

3. Promise Indulgence.
Keto claims on ice cream promise the shopper a rich mouthfeel with no- to low-added sugars. Indulgence is not sacrificed in these ultra-high fat treats. Fat is not the enemy in the keto diet. Sugar is. The extra richness compensates for the lack of sugar. This is not something one gets in high-protein, low-sugar, low-calorie ice creams. Keto is not a low-calorie food. 

Indulgence is also about not making sacrifices. If lactose intolerance or sensitivity is what makes a consumer stray from cows milk ice cream, then bring them back to real dairy by booting out the lactose. That’s why Pierre’s is growing its Lactose Free line. Cookies & Cream and Mint Chocolate Chip join Pierre’s Chocolate and Vanilla, which rolled out a decade ago. Pierre’s Lactose Free Ice Cream is made just like other ice cream flavors, but with the addition of lactase enzyme, which breaks down the lactose in the ice cream.
“Our lactose free ice cream fans provided us with a lot of great feedback about the kind of fun flavors they would enjoy,” says Matt Thornicroft, Pierre’s communications manager. 

“Added Indulgence” is the name of the game in Perry’s new pint line. It is spelled out on the cartons. The indulgent formulation was developed in response to findings published in the Raymond James report, Summer 2022, showing that 80% of ice cream users are seeking indulgent experiences, especially in the super-premium category, according to the company. The lineup includes 13 extra-indulgent ice cream flavors and 1 unique sherbet.

“These ice cream pints truly are extra indulgent. We’ve increased the butterfat and density resulting in an extra indulgent experience of creamy richness,” Amanda Gleba, product development manager at Perry’s. 

Varieties are: 
Bad Breakup: Sea salt caramel chocolate ice cream with milk fudge swirls and rich fudge filled hearts.
Brownie Batter: Brownie batter ice cream with brownie batter swirls and chunky brownie dough bites.
Cheat Day: Brown sugar ice cream with brownie batter swirls and chunks of brownie dough and cookie dough.
Deep Sea Treasure: Sea salt caramel ice cream with decadent sea salt truffles and gooey caramel swirls.
Fireball: Fiery cinnamon-flavored ice cream with zesty cinnamon flavored swirls and spicy cinnamon candies.
Grasshopper Pie: Mint ice cream with thick fudge swirls and sweet crème filled cookies.
Madagascar Vanilla: Madagascar vanilla ice cream with a hint of sea salt.
Northern Lights: Sour green apple, blue raspberry and grape flavored sherbet.
Off the Grid: Chocolate ice cream with creamy peanut butter swirls and chopped peanut butter cups.
Panda Paws: Vanilla ice cream with peanut butter panda paw cups and thick rich fudge.  
Peanut Butter Cookie: Sugar cookie ice cream with creamy peanut butter swirls and peanut butter cookie dough pieces.  
Piece of Cake: Yellow cake ice cream with thick chocolate frosting and fluffy pound cake pieces.
Rocky Mountain Raspberry: White chocolate ice cream with almond raspberry fudge chunks and sweet raspberry swirls.
Southern Pecan: Butter pecan ice cream with an overload of pecans.  

4. Offer a Relationship.
Ice cream is very personal for many consumers and when a flavor offers a sentimental connection, you’ve got a relationship with longevity…or at least until the flavor sells out. 

H-E-B is honoring the 2022 World Series champions with private-label Creamy Creations Houston Astros Peanut Brittle ice cream. The flavor comprises peanut butter ice cream with peanut brittle pieces and caramel swirl. The retailer is donating 5% of the price of each ice cream purchase to the Astros Foundation. The foundation seeks to harness the passion of baseball fans to support youth baseball and softball programs, the recognition/honor of our nation’s military, childhood cancer awareness and efforts to reduce homelessness.

The carton’s label is a tribute to the home field advantage with an original illustration commissioned by H-E-B featuring Orbit, views of Minute Maid Park with an open roof from behind home plate and the outfield, fans young and old enjoying the bases loaded for a win, and H-town’s beloved “home run” train ready to signal another run.

Relationships can in all sizes and shapes. Sometimes they are superheroes other times they are a philanthropy. Sustainability and upcycling come into play here. 

5. Explore the World.
Provide consumers an escape from reality, this sad excuse for a reality that we live in these days. (OK, this was a pretty awesome week!) 
Take them on a flavor adventure using authentic recipes and ingredients from around the world. Stamp their passport. 

6. Provide Permission to Enjoy All Day.
From frozen yogurt with granola and whole fruit to sleep-friendly formulations, frozen dairy desserts can be formulated to be enjoyed all day. This is where 100-calorie (or close) snacks fit in. 

My/Mochi is rolling out Cereal and Milk Mochi Ice Cream, which brings together cereal and ice cream, wrapped in chewy mochi dough. There’s also new Mochi in the Morning, a line of smoothies for the morning daypart. They feature fruit puree wrapped in soft rice mochi dough.

7. Embrace Non-Dairy Options.
The global non-dairy ice cream market was valued $700 million in 2022, according to a recent report from Global Market Insights. It is projected to surpass $1.9 billion by 2032.

Interestingly, recent research from ofi shows that most of the time, non-dairy “dairy” is not cannibalizing dairy. It’s in addition to purchasing dairy. 

Dairies make the best non-dairy ice cream. Maybe offer a variety or two. 

Today’s blog has an accompanying 9-minute presentation that may be viewed HERE.

To read more about the products pictured in this blog, link HERE.

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