New research from Mintel reveals that there were more chocolate flavored ice cream products launched in the UK in 2015 than vanilla for the first time in eight years.
According to Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) as many as 22% of all new ice cream products launched in the UK in the past 12 months were chocolate flavored, compared to vanilla at 18%, caramel or caramelized flavors at 13% and strawberry at 12%.
While chocolate is top of the ice cream flavors this year, since 2007/2008 vanilla has been the number one flavor in innovation.
After peaking in popularity in 2013/14, when as many as 34% of all products were vanilla flavored, the popularity of vanilla has been declining steadily with less than one in five (18%) new products launched with a vanilla flavor in 2015/16.
Meanwhile, the popularity of chocolate as a flavor in new product development has been rising steadily over the past three years increasing from just 15% of all UK new ice cream products in 2013/2014 to a sublime 22% in 2015/2016.
Consumers in Britain are also sweet on caramel and caramelized flavors, with the number of new ice cream products with a caramel or caramelized flavor has risen from 6% of all UK new ice cream products in 2011/2012, doubling to a delicious 13% in 2015/16.
“The ongoing popularity of ice cream bars is inspiring ice cream innovators, prompting the rise in chocolate flavors,” says Alex Beckett, global food and drink analyst.
“While health is a booming innovation trend in ice cream, with dairy- and sugar-free launches taking up more freezer space, some brands are going the opposite route and ramping up the indulgent factor. Hence more chocolate and caramel.”
About 48% of respondents are interested in seeing a wide variety of ice cream made with high-quality chocolate from premium chocolatiers and cocoa from a specific region, with the popularity of premium quality products peaking among 16-24 year olds (57%).
And 58% UK men aged 16-24 say they typically eat ice cream once a week or more in the spring and summer months, compared to just 46% of women aged 16-24.
Just 5% of UK consumers say they do not typically eat ice cream in the spring and summer months and 17% say they do not tend to eat the treat in autumn and winter.
As a result of their hunger for ice cream, UK consumers are predicted to purchase 337 million liters of the treat in 2016 from retail channels, compared to Italians who are forecast to scoop up just 284 million liters.
Introducing a hot element to ice cream could help to overcome any aversion to cold food in colder weather.
About 41% of UK consumers have expressed an interest in ice cream that comes with a sauce to be heated.
“The ice cream market is notoriously weather dependent and, accordingly, seasonal, with usage dropping during lackluster summers and in the colder autumn and winter months,” says Beckett.
“Ice cream that comes with a separate sauce to be heated attracts considerable interest among users, potentially offering a means of boosting sales in the chillier months.”
Finally, Mintel research reveals the popularity gelato enjoys in the US is now making its way across Europe.
Having long been a favorite in parlors and scoop shops, gelato has now become much easier to find in US retailers over the past couple of years with as many as 43% of US consumers buying gelato.
Consumption of gelato in Europe remains relatively low with 29% of Germans, 27% of Spanish consumers and 19% of French eating gelato in 2015.
Mintel GNPD shows a 95% increase in global gelato introductions over the past five years.
“In the UK, consumer appetite for gelato has grown in line with increased new product development activity in supermarkets,” says Beckett.
“A number of supermarkets now have a private label gelato range, and branded offerings are slowly emerging.”