What’s New in Frozen Desserts?

While traditional retail ice cream sales have lost out slightly over the past 12 months, frozen desserts are growing.
According to global information provider NielsenIQ, 52-week data ending January 2021 indicates that while the overall frozen desserts category is down by 1.2% ($15.2 billion), frozen cake sales increased by 8.2% ($549 million), frozen pies by 2.4% ($567 million), shakes by 7.1% ($95 million), dessert bars by 22.2% ($70 million), and specialty frozen desserts by 12.5% ($49 million)1.
These gains may be due in part to new and innovative formulations and flavors, many addressing increasing consumer demands around health, the environment, and more natural ingredients.
So, what’s trending in the category?
Frozen Desserts Drivers and Trends
The “free-from” trend is paying off.
According to Nielsen, “free-from” claims impacted sales as follows:

  • “Free from artificial flavors” sold $8.8 billion, down 1.1%.
  • “Free from artificial preservatives” sold $4.4 billion – steady year-on-year.
  • “Free from dairy” sold $1.2 billion – up by 4.5%.

In addition, Innova Market Insights reported that “gluten-free” claims appeared on a third (30%) of new 2021 launches, with “GMO-free” displayed on close to a quarter (22%)2 .
So, it’s clear: healthier, more natural ingredients and offerings are spurring sales, with plant-based the fastest growing. According to Innova, this segment experienced an average 67% CAGR from 2018 to 20213.
Findings from Technomic’s 2021 Dessert Consumer Trend Report validate this trend, suggesting that 21% of consumers are buying more plant-based desserts, positioning the segment as vital in appealing to the broadest spectrum of consumers4.
In addition, Innova’s 2021 Trends Survey highlights that 27% of US consumers look for natural ingredients even in indulgent treats, with close to a fifth (22%) of 2021 launches making premium and indulgence claims. Hence, the natural approach is critical.
The most favored flavors are golden oldies such as vanilla and milk chocolate, strawberry, fudge, and chocolate chip, and firm favorites are brownie, cookie dough, and coffee.
Other trend claims and flavor sales tracked across four years and highlighted by Datassential5 include:

  • Vegetarian (+139%)
  • Chocolate ganache (+126%)
  • Vegan (+124%)
  • Sea salt caramel (+122%)
  • Hibiscus (+119%)
  • Irish cream (+119%)

Beyond traditional flavor favorites, Ben & Jerry’s reports a consumer inclination to try new international tastes and sensations, with Unilever highlighting reimagined classics, nondairy option expansion, and mini sizes. TruFru, too, is seeing upticks in convenience and on-the-go formats, including smaller pack sizes and price points, while family-sized offerings remain in demand.
Healthy Indulgence
The trend is towards healthier indulgence, including clean, “free from” labels, and pure and natural ingredients, without compromising taste and novelty.
Moreover, according to NeVille6, the segment is expected to continue growing, with consumers still choosing home consumption over eating out and ever more users looking for healthier innovation and escapism.
This emphasis on natural ingredients also means that distillates are trending – an ideal ingredient format for liquid products and frozen desserts, more efficient and straightforward to apply than other ingredient types. Distillates are concentrated and frequently more complex than the source product, yielding high-quality, consistent, and superior frozen flavor profiles.
So, what can manufacturers do to ensure market appeal?
Rely on Advanced Biotech’s Pure and Natural Flavor and Aroma Molecules
To ensure clean labels incorporating 100% pure and natural ingredients, browse Advanced Biotech’s extensive collection of plant-based, EU-certified flavor molecules.
We source and produce our ingredients ethically and responsibly, using the latest extraction technology and techniques.
Advanced Biotech’s comprehensive distillates range includes trending espresso, cocoa, honey, fruity, molasses, and banana flavor molecules.
So, bring your frozen desserts to life with a host of vibrant, natural distillates. Please contact us for more information.

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