Overall, sales of ice cream and frozen novelties grew 9% from 2008-2013 to $11.2 billion, equating to a loss of 1% when adjusted for inflation. While ice cream is the most popular segment by far in the sector (consumed in 89% of U.S. households according to Mintel’s research) the segment posted minimal sales growth, going from $5.7 billion in 2011 to $5.9 billion in 2013. In contrast, the frozen yogurt sector grew from $279 million in 2011 to reach $486 million in 2013.
Beth Bloom, food and drink analyst at Mintel, said: “While ice cream remains the largest segment of the ice cream and frozen novelties market, sales dipped following the economic downturn. The expanding array of snack options, as well as a lack of product innovation, contributed to this performance. In contrast, the frozen yogurt segment has benefitted from a perfect storm of factors, including the growing popularity of yogurt among U.S. consumers, the growing acceptance of frozen yogurt as a snack, and a perception of a higher health profile that coincides with increased attention placed on better-for-you products.”
The majority of consumers (73%) believe that ice cream and frozen novelties can fit into a healthy lifestyle and nearly half (47%) agree that low sugar/fat ice cream and frozen treats are as satisfying as regular varieties. However, some 53% of consumers say they try to limit the amount of ice cream or frozen treats they keep around the house because they are afraid they will eat too much and 21% believe eating these items even once a week is too excessive.
More than half (56%) of all ice cream and frozen novelty consumers partake in their sweet treat after a meal as a dessert, however younger Americans believe anytime is good for a cold treat. Indeed, 57% of those between 18-24 years old eat ice cream/frozen novelties whenever they want compared to 44% of all age groups. In addition, 30% of 18-24s indulge on frozen treats as a snack between meals versus only 22% of all ages. This is perhaps understandable as Mintel’s research shows that young consumers are twice as likely as the average to eat products for mood enhancement (38% vs. 19%).
“Ice cream and frozen novelty products positioned as having an added value through the offer of functional benefits, as well as reduced guilt through their contribution to well-being, can stand apart from the competition on store shelves and garner more attention from consumers,” added Ms. Bloom.
Perhaps a benefit of living alone, respondents from single-person households are more likely than larger households to eat frozen treats whenever they want (52% vs. 44%). And according to Ms. Bloom, “this is a strong indication that advertisements that depict people reveling in the solo enjoyment of ice cream and frozen treat products should resonate with a large percentage of consumers.”