Ice cream innovation draws on health and wellness trend19 Oct 2022
Manufacturers are formulating ice cream ranges with probiotics, protein, and plant-based ingredients to appeal to growing health and wellness demand.
Ice cream products are diversifying in the remaining months of 2022.
Digestive health claims are proving a prominent feature on ice cream packaging labels, data analytics firm IRI says in its latest dairy insights. Manufacturers will likely increase their prebiotic, probiotic, and other digestive claims to meet consumer demand, particularly as consumers are willing to pay a premium for plant-based milk alternatives.
In addition, 53% of global consumers consider plant-based alternatives because they perceive them to be healthier than their non-plant-based counterparts, chocolate and cocoa manufacturer Barry Callebaut finds.
Making ice cream healthier
Described as the ice cream “focused on flavour”, Oppo Brothers launched in 2014 to create healthy ice cream. The brand’s founders were inspired by the healthy and delicious wild berries and coconuts they ate in Brazil.
The founders set out to find highly indulgent food to transform and landed on ice cream. Since then, the duo has developed hundreds of recipes. Its aim is to create an indulgent treat with a delicious taste while not compromising on health.
“We try our hardest to maintain the fundamental aspects of what makes ice cream ice cream while adjusting the formulation to reduce the fat, sugar and calories,” says Christye McKinney, global brand manager, Oppo Brothers.
The brand’s dairy ice cream is made on a base of whole milk and cream to produce an indulgent and creamy experience. It switches out sugar, using sweetener alternatives such as erythritol, to achieve the sought-after taste in a healthier formulation. Its product range is 60% lower in calories and sugar than regular ice cream, it states.
Trends form a significant part of Oppo Brothers’ research. “We spend a lot of time looking into new macro and micro trends that are emerging in the food industry and see how we can apply this to our ice cream,” adds McKinney.
The UK brand uses a base recipe developed for its ice cream. As a result, most recipe development revolves around balancing flavours and appealing taste inclusions and swirls. The biggest part of the brand’s research and development (R&D) process is commercialisation, where it runs trials, develops packaging, and prepares to launch the product to retailers.
Halo Top launches keto range
Established ice cream names are increasingly entering the health and wellness space with new launches. Häagen-Dazs has released a light ice cream collection called Heaven, for example, and Halo Top has unveiled a keto range of ice cream products.
Balancing health with other ice cream demands
Consumers expect more from their indulgence treats today. Permissible indulgence has been an ever-present trend in recent years, with consumers open to treats that meet their demands for taste, flavour, and all-around sensorial experience.
“With ice cream, taste will always be king,” says McKinney. Ice cream today is even more indulgent, with playful textures and new flavours, the brand adds. Manufacturers and brands can create indulgence by selecting rich textures or ingredients and by focusing on provenance and processing methods.
Increasingly, today’s consumers look at the health credentials attached to these treat-based products. “At the same time, consumers are also increasingly looking for healthier foods and trying to keep fit and lose weight,” he adds. Portion control is important and claims like high in protein are trending. “But it always comes back to flavour for this category.”
Convenience is also sought-after in the ice cream space, with manufacturers releasing on-the-go and blend-it-yourself varieties, including shakes and smoothies, to appeal to consumers’ busy lifestyles. Value-for-money benefits are also increasingly important amid rising inflation rates.
Not forgetting novelty and nostalgia
A core trend expanding in ice cream is the marriage of exciting and novel flavours with taste profiles reminiscent of the past, inspired by pop culture favourites from films, games and music.
Consumers care about the sensory experience, with 30% of ice cream consumers in Brazil saying they would pay more for ice cream products that appeal to the senses, market intelligence company Mintel reveals.
N! CK’S has teamed up with Minecraft to release a new limited edition range of ice creams. The brand has launched a variety of keto-friendly ice creams that come in new flavours to satisfy consumers’ palettes for traditional tastes and those with a twist.
Frozen confectionery brand Bomb Pops has launched a line of dual-textured frozen novelties, while ice cream brand Klondike has introduced a range of doughnut-inspired ice cream bars.
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