What’s the scoop? Comax Flavors examines US ice cream habits including plant-based popularity
New research reveals taste is still the number one driver of ice cream purchases while vanilla remains the most favored flavor for all age groups
05 Jun 2019 --- Taste is the number one driver of ice cream purchases as it is the most important attribute. This is according to what 70 percent of respondents in a new Comax Flavors study have said. The survey also found that a third of consumers look for fruit (36 percent) and nuts (35 percent) in their ice cream, while 51 percent of respondents’ ice cream habits change depending on the season with 80 percent consuming ice cream mostly during spring and summer months. Comax’s “Ice Cream and Plant-Based Ice Cream” study involved 1,000 US participants – men and women aged 18-70 – and was designed to “better understand the evolving consumer” as plant-based trends accelerate in the ice cream category.
The study comes as the global ice cream market is anticipated to reach US$78.8 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR 4.1 percent, according to data from Innova Market Insights.
The study examined consumption habits and preferences to better understand consumer behavior, usage and attitude toward ice cream, ice cream novelties, as well as plant-based products.
Other highlights of the research include that half or more of respondents look for milk (62 percent), cream (55 percent), or sugar (49 percent) in their ice cream.
Vanilla or vanilla combinations are the number one flavor category among all generations with almost three-quarters of respondents citing it (72 percent); Generation Z (84 percent), Millennials (73 percent), Generation X (68 percent), Baby Boomers (66 percent) and Silent Generation (61 percent).
Vanilla flavor is commonly seen in classic favorites such as desserts and ice cream, bakery, and dairy products, it is also moving to other market categories such as soft drinks, snacks, alcoholic beverages and ready meals. Vanilla is also gaining attention for its flavor-enhancing properties and for its different origins; Mexican, Madagascar Bourbon and Tahitian vanilla claims are increasingly highlighted on products.
The results also showed that chocolate or chocolate combinations are the second most popular flavor consumed by all generations with 64 percent citing it, while 40 of respondents consume strawberry or strawberry combinations. More than a third (35 percent) opt for caramel or caramel combinations and one-third of the respondents said they choose butter pecan or butter pecan combinations while 31 percent consume mint and mint combinations.
As increasing numbers of consumers opt to cut out or reduce dairy, plant-based ice cream NPD is growing. The top five ingredients participants look for in their plant-based ice cream products are fruit (60 percent), almonds (56 percent), protein (55 percent), coconut (51 percent) and banana (48 percent).
The five most important attributes respondents base their plant-based ice cream product purchases are plant-based (70 percent), vegan (90 percent), organic (89 percent), health benefits (85 percent), dairy-free/lactose (84 percent).
According to Innova Market Insights data, plant-based product claims have increased by 62 percent globally from 2013 to 2017. “The dairy alternatives market has been a particular beneficiary of this trend,” says Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights. “With the growing availability and promotion of plant-based options to traditional dairy lines, specifically milk beverages, and cultured products such as yogurt, frozen desserts and ice cream.”
There is also plenty of room for innovation as the demand for vegan shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, gravitation towards plant-based diets in general, along with interest in vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian lifestyles as well as concerns over animal welfare, have together served to increase interest. NPD has subsequently seen an 11 percent CAGR for the 2013-2017 period, according to the market researcher.
Comax has partnered with Amy Marks-McGee of Trendincite LLC to manage the market research program and Costello Creative Group to translate the data into infographics.
“Nothing signifies summer quite like ice cream. In addition to dairy-based ice cream, there is a lot of activity in plant-based ice cream and we wanted to better understand the evolving consumer,” says Catherine Armstrong, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Comax Flavors.
Additional Comax studies include alcohol, alternative dairy products, bread, coffee, crackers, flavored water, juice, nutrition and performance products, sweet baked products, tea and yogurt.
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