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Hot Trends in Frozen Desserts This Summer and Beyond

by Jill Failla

Can frozen desserts provide indulgent treats to please discerning health & wellness shoppers? Certainly! Natural frozen desserts that satisfy special diet needs – and even those claiming functional health benefits – are stealing share of the freezer shelf this summer.

In the FZ ICE CREAM subcategory, items in SPINS’ Natural Positioning Group have grown 20.1% since last year, in contrast with the 8.7% growth and 1.0% growth seen for Specialty & Wellness and Conventional Positioning Group items, respectively. In line with these findings, SPINS data also shows that FZ ICE CREAM is growing fastest in the Natural Channel (+9.8%), compared to the Specialty Gourmet Channel (+3.1%) and MULO Channel (+1.9%). Here are some growing Natural FZ ICE CREAM trends to look out for this summer.

Natural Ice Cream with Alternative Sweeteners

Some brands are using natural and alternative sweetener blends (think organic stevia and cane sugar) to lighten sugar content in sweet chilly treats.

For example, Halo Top’s frozen desserts – available in creative new flavors like Pancakes & Waffles, Cinnamon Roll, and Mochi Green Tea – contain erythritol, organic stevia, and organic cane sugar. The container features low-sugar, low-carb, and low-fat claims. This ice cream also contains a milk protein concentrate, helping bump up one serving of this treat to 5 grams of protein.

Agave Dream’s Vanilla Ice Cream features a front-label low-glycemic claim using organic agave nectar as the sweetener. Created by two moms for their kids and family members with diabetes, a portion of the company’s proceeds are contributed to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Plant-Based Ice Cream

Although the FZ ICE CREAM PLANT BASED subcategory still has a much smaller share of the market than traditional FZ ICE CREAM, it’s boasting a double-digit growth rate from last year. FZ NOVELTIES PLANT BASED is a related subcategory that is also picking up steam, growing sales 5.9% over last year. Many of the desserts in these two subcategories contain alternatives to dairy. However, not all these items are vegan, as some of them contain ingredients such as organic egg yolk. Still, these items provide a primarily plant-based choice for consumers looking to lessen their intake of animal products – a trend SPINS predicted would take hold as flexitarian options diversify and thrive in the marketplace.

Instead of milk, New Barn’s AlmondCrème lineup features its own signature Almondmilk, made with water, organic almonds, organic maple syrup, organic acacia gum, and sea salt. Most of its AlmondCrème desserts also contain organic egg yolks and organic carob flour. They come in classic flavors like Organic Vanilla and Organic Strawberry as well as more unique flavors like Almondmilk and Cereal, Organic Sunflower Butter, and Ginger Snap Cookie.

So Delicious’ new CashewMilk Dipped Salted Caramel bars are a non-dairy frozen dessert item made with the brand’s own Cashewmilk Beverage, cane sugar, a natural caramel ribbon, and a natural chocolate dip coating. The brand bills the item as rich, creamy, and indulgent. SPINS also called out cashews as a top ingredient to watch in 2017 thanks to their rich texture, plant-based protein, and relatively lower fat content compared to other nuts.

The Future of Frozen

Looking to DIY and foodservice sources for frozen innovations reveals a few trends that may influence the future of this retail category. In the restaurant world, Asian frozen desserts are proliferating, from Thai rolled ice cream at 10Below Ice Cream in New York City to Taiwanese shaved ice at Snow Dragon Shavery & Yogurt in Chicago. Look for innovative frozen dessert ingredients to emerge such as the dairy-free sticky rice made of coconut milk and pandan that is used at Secret Scoop in Berkeley, CA.

Secret Scoop’s Thai Gelato with dairy-free sticky rice

And how about frozen desserts for breakfast? Kitchn, an online food destination, recently published a recipe for Peanut Butter Banana Breakfast Pops. These pops contain Greek yogurt, peanut butter, and bananas for a portable, protein-packed, and very tasty breakfast solution for summer and beyond.

Kitchn’s Peanut Butter Banana Breakfast Pops
Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani for Kitchn

Want to know more about frozen desserts? Contact your SPINS rep or spinsinfo@spins.com to dig deeper into the data on this and other hot ingredients in your segment of the market!