New research from Mintel reveals that there were more chocolate flavoured ice cream products launched in the UK in the past year 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 flavoured, compared to vanilla at 18%, caramel or caramelised flavours at 13%, and strawberry at 12%.
Since 2007/2008 vanilla has been the number one flavour in innovation. It peaked in popularity in 2013/14, when 34% of all products were vanilla flavoured, but its popularity has been declining steadily since. Meanwhile, the popularity of chocolate as a flavour has seen it grow from just 15% of all UK new ice cream products in 2013/2014. Further, the number of new ice cream products with a caramel or caramelised flavour has more than doubled from the 6% of all UK new ice cream products in 2011/2012.
Alex Beckett, Global Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel, said: “The ongoing popularity of ice cream bars is inspiring ice cream innovators, prompting the rise in chocolate flavours. Also, 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. This is further proof that British ice cream trends eventually emulate those of the US, where chocolate has been the top ice cream launch flavour for years.”
Although chocolate has become prevalent in ice cream, it appears that Brits still want to see more of it – especially the posher stuff. 48% of all Brits 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%).
Ice cream is most popular amongst young men, with 58% of UK men aged 16-24 saying 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.
Overall, Mintel research revealed that just 5% of UK consumers say they don’t typically eat ice cream in the spring and summer months and 17% say they don’t 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 litres of the treat in 2016 from retail channels, well over that of Italian consumers who are forecast to scoop up just 284 million litres.
As well as appealing to a nation of chocolate lovers, introducing a hot element to ice cream could help to overcome any aversion to cold food in colder weather – 41% of UK consumers expressed an interest in ice cream that comes with a sauce to be heated.
“The ice cream market is notoriously weather dependant and, accordingly, seasonal, with usage dropping during lacklustre summers and in the colder autumn and winter months. 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.” Alex adds.