Ice cream is a cold dessert enjoyed by consumers worldwide. However, with changing consumer preferences and dietary considerations, the ice cream category has witnessed a significant shift in recent years. Here are some of the highlights in global dairy trends and dairy alternative ice cream trends, factors driving the demand for these products, and the innovations shaping this category.
Dairy Alternative Ice Cream: Rising Demand
Overall, taste and indulgence are the reasons for consuming dessert and ice cream, and when looking to indulge, flavor becomes an important factor as well. Another key trend in the ice cream market besides flavor is the increasing demand for dairy alternative options. This trend can be attributed to various factors, including lactose intolerance, dairy allergies, and the growing popularity of vegan and plant-based diets. One noticeable trend is that consumers are seeking alternatives made from ingredients like almond milk, coconut milk, and soy milk, which offer an indulgent experience without the use of dairy. Consumers have been shown to consume non-dairy ice cream at an equal consumption rate as dairy ice cream.
Health and Wellness Considerations
The global trend towards healthier eating habits has also influenced the ice cream market. Whereas indulgent claims might be most associated with ice cream, health claims are just as influential. Despite their equal levels of influence, health claims have a much lower occurrence rate on ice cream products. The popularity of health claims in ice cream NPD varies from region to region, but globally, ‘gluten-free’ is the most popular at 12.7% and ‘no additives/preservatives’ is the second most popular at 9.6%. Consumers are becoming more health-conscious and are seeking ice cream options that align with their dietary goals. As a result, there has been a surge in the development of low-sugar, low-fat, and high-protein ice creams. Manufacturers are also incorporating functional ingredients like probiotics and superfoods to enhance the nutritional profile of their products.
Sustainability and Environmental Impact
Another significant trend in ice cream is the growing focus on sustainability and environmental impact. Consumers are seeking more sustainable alternatives, such as plant-based ice creams with a lower environmental footprint. Innovators are targeting plant-based and environmental trends while adding indulgence. Non-dairy claim trends have seen a +29.3 CAGR for plant-based claims between 2018 and 2023. As for environmental trends, environmental and palm-oil-free claims have experienced the fastest growth in this time frame at +19.3% and 25.5%, respectively. This shift towards dairy alternatives aligns with the global movement towards a more sustainable food system.
Flavor Innovation and Innovative Ingredients
To cater to evolving consumer tastes, ice cream manufacturers are focusing on flavor innovation and using underused ingredients. Indulgent premium flavors are seeing the strongest growth. Dulce de leche is an example of this, having experienced +20% CAGR (five years ending Q1 2023). Besides this flavor’s home market of Latin America, innovators outside of the region are using it as an indulgent and novel alternative to traditional caramel. A premium flavor example is bourbon vanilla as opposed to the standard flavor vanilla, experiencing +14% CAGR in the same time frame. Additionally, there is a growing interest in artisanal and premium ice creams made with high-quality ingredients. This trend reflects consumers’ willingness to pay a premium for indulgent and unique ice cream experiences.
Global Ice Cream Market Growth shows Regional Variations Trends
The global ice cream market continues to show growing activity in new product launches, with different regions experiencing varying demand levels. Most NPD is dairy based, though non-dairy has seen the biggest increase with recently weakening growth due to category saturation. In some regions, traditional dairy ice cream still dominates the market, while dairy alternative options are gaining popularity in others. Ice cream’s market value and volume vary across countries, with some countries showing faster growth rates and higher per capita consumption.
The global dairy trends and dairy alternative ice cream trends reflect changing consumer preferences in their increasing focus on health, sustainability, and flavor innovation. As more people adopt plant-based diets, seek healthier options, and prioritize environmental sustainability, the demand for dairy alternative ice cream is expected to continue to rise. The ice cream market is evolving to meet these demands, offering a wide range of innovative products to cater to diverse consumer needs. Whether it’s traditional dairy ice cream or dairy alternative options, there is something for everyone in the ever-evolving world of ice cream.
This article is based on our report, “Global Dairy Trends and Dairy Alternative Ice Cream Trends.”
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