In 2020, ice cream performed really well; the category grew by 21.1%, seeing a sales increase of +£278M (Nielsen).
The pandemic only catalysed what was already a steady rise of the Big Night In occasion, plus the warm weather saw the return of the picnic in the park – two key ice cream consumption occasions.
Kat Jones, Marketing Manager, Ice Cream at General Mills, comments: “With over a third of consumers treating themselves more than ever, luxury ice cream brands, like Häagen-Dazs, are in the ideal position to respond to that demand for extra comfort and pleasure, more relevant than ever in 2021, with new formats and innovations.”
General Mills provides retailers, and in turn consumers, with solutions for various needs and consumption opportunities. Its tubs tap into the sharing at-home occasion, while the mini cups provide individual portion-sizes, ideal for those sharing opportunities, while also catering to the mindful consumption trend.
“If people are going to indulge, they’re going to do it well,” adds Jones. “Luxury ice cream is a conscious treat spend, we pride ourselves on providing taste enjoyment that delivers every time and that’s what shoppers want; brands that consistently deliver.”
“With the appetite we’re still seeing for innovation, and the less-than-ideal circumstances we still find ourselves in, it made sense for us to start off 2021 with a bang,” says Jones.
General Mills recently launched a new 2-in-1 ice-cream; a multi-texture creation in three on-trend flavours: Belgian Chocolate & Vanilla Crunch; Dark Chocolate & Salted Caramel Crunch and Belgian Chocolate & Strawberry.
The completely unique proposition is set to significantly drive category value by answering a consumer need for new and exciting consumption experiences.
The hybrid format brings together two contrasting yet complimentary flavours to create one decadent tub and responds directly to research that shows innovation is what 53% of luxury ice cream shoppers are calling out for (Nielsen).
With 62% of consumers claiming they would buy the flavour, retailers can expect to see the product deliver a sales uplift, driving incremental sales by upwards of an impressive 19%.
Research shows that product quality and distinctiveness are the most important factors to buyers seeking a luxury experience. The DUO range responds to that demand and provides an ideal offering, tapping into the opportunity to fulfil shoppers’ increased desire for chocolate indulgence, of which 77% of consumers assuage with ice cream (Nielsen).
Henry Craven, Customer Marketing Controller, Froneri, comments: “It’s been quite a year for Ice Cream, with sales for the total market (Take Home & Impulse products combined) hitting a record high of over £1.35 billion, growth of +20% versus the previous year, beating even the heatwave of 2018 to become the biggest ever year for the category.”
Against the backdrop of Covid-19, lockdown restrictions have had a significant impact on Take Home ice cream sales, driving over 365 million additional ice cream consumption occasions, with children off school and people working from home leading to a sharp rise in snacking and a surge in demand for ice cream.
While it’s common to see ice cream sales increase sharply with periods of warm weather in the summer, with the ongoing pandemic and tighter lockdown restrictions, uplifts through winter were higher than are normally predicted, suggesting a lasting impact on the consumption patterns of consumers.
“With the increase in snacking at home, handheld ice cream formats have generally been more suited to the change in situation but throughout the pandemic, many of us have looked for little ways to treat ourselves, so it’s the more indulgent sectors such as Superpremium Tubs and Chocolate Sticks that have performed especially well, contributing heavily to the value and volume growth over the year,” adds Craven. “Sales across the Nuii range shot up by over +80% YOY driven by consumers looking for a more premium, indulgent ice cream experience for their evening treat.”
And although consumers have sought comfort in more indulgent products, Ice Lollies continue to perform strongly as a sector, with sales up over +25% YOY.
Lollies have moved from being a summer staple to an all-year-round favourite and the fastest growing of all handheld sectors over the last 5 years, driven by their great value and low-calorie permissibility.
Brands with broad family appeal have done particularly well and as the market leading brand, Rowntree’s has continued to lead this upward curve, growing +35% YOY. Rowntree’s Fruit Pastille lollies are now the second best-selling product in the total market.
“But whether it’s a Chocolate covered Stick or an Ice Lolly, ice cream is a treat category and enjoyment is the main driver of consumption – consumers tell us it has to taste good,” says Craven.
In recent years, Healthy ice creams have enjoyed success on the promise of guilt-free indulgence; however, we’ve now seen this sector fall considerably behind the growth the rest of the market has enjoyed.
Many of the low-calorie Healthy ice creams haven’t delivered on quality or taste and shoppers aren’t prepared to compromise on enjoyment or taste when they’re choosing a treat.
Instead, health-conscious shoppers are turning their attention to other products and the growth of consumers following a flexitarian diet is leading to increased demand for plant-based ice cream variants.
“Again, for these to succeed in the category, there can be no compromise on taste,” suggests Craven. “To tap into this growing trend, we launched RØAR last year, an indulgent plant-based ice cream range, having put a lot of time into getting the quality, texture and taste just right. Consumer feedback across the range has so far been incredible.”
Families have been responsible for driving the largest increase in dessert and snacking occasions this year and Cadbury Ice Cream has grown +27% YOY on the back of this, appealing to families with all their favourite Cadbury variants in ice cream.
This year Froneri is looking to appeal to even more family occasions with the addition of Cadbury Dairy Milk Core Tub to the range.
The product comprises creamy vanilla ice cream, with Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate pieces laced throughout and a smooth chocolatey core, all coming together for an indulgent family treat.
In Ice Cream Cones, recent incremental growth in the sector has been driven by more indulgent, added-value brands and Froneri is looking to further this growth with the launch of Cadbury Dairy Milk Choc Top Cones, an ice cream cone, covered with Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate on top.
With distinctive new look packaging across the Cadbury range, these launches will be supported by an all new Cadbury TV campaign and further support across digital and social together with activation at point of purchase.
Nuii’s new Caramel White Chocolate & Texan Pecan ice cream offers an indulgent ice cream experience, made with premium ingredients from around the globe.
Caramel is mixed into the white chocolate coating to give it a unique blonde colour and caramel taste, combined with Texan pecan nuts to give consumers the ultimate taste of adventure, perfect for a few moments of escape on an evening.
Froneri will be supporting the Nuii range through a broad marketing mix this year, covering TV, outdoor advertising, digital, PR, social and shopper marketing.
Jess Ali, General Marketing Manager at Birds Eye, comments: “Innovation has been key to driving growth within the frozen category. Offering new flavours is a really important way to create excitement and extend relevance. Brands and retailers need to therefore continue investing in innovation and ultimately expand the range of products available to consumers, in order to maintain the frozen category growth.”
A key part of the success of Birds Eye’s Green Cuisine range can be put down to the type of NPD it is developing and offering. 46% of Green Cuisine sales are coming through NPD (Nielsen), with much of these products helping to bring pea protein to a mainstream audience by extending the repertoire of plant-based meals.
Birds Eye has developed formats that play off recognisable products that shoppers love and enjoy. Its latest launch has taken the iconic chicken dipper, arguably one of the nation’s most-loved teatime foods, and recreated a plant-based version of the dinnertime favourite.
With 39.4% of UK households enjoying its chicken products (Kantar), Birds Eye is in the unique position to craft meat-free versions and encourage shoppers to experiment with what the frozen plant-based category has to offer.
Since launching a few months ago, the Green Cuisine Chicken-free range has seen the strongest distribution of all Birds Eye’s plant-based NPD, averaging 92% across top 5 retailers.
NPD such as this has also helped to grow the overall distribution of the Green Cuisine range by 18%, attracting new shoppers to the frozen aisle.
“That’s not to say innovation is solely responsible for our growth – since launching in January 2019, Birds Eye’s core Green Cuisine range has performed really well,” adds Ali. “It’s clear that shoppers are still looking for plant-based products that take on similar shapes and formats to their favourite meat products, with our burgers and meatballs leading the way, driving sales of £3.32m RSV and £3.29m RSV respectively.”
Birds Eye has the number one vegan burger and number one vegan meatball in the market (Nielsen). The meat-free Meatball and Burger SKUs were also the top-ranked vegan products in their respective categories during Veganuary 2020, less than a year after their launch.
“Quorn’s iconic orange branding has become synonymous with sustainable eating and acts as a signpost for meat free within the frozen category,” says Gill Riley, Marketing Director at Quorn Foods UK.
“We all want to do the right thing when it comes to the planet, but often don’t know where to start or think that we can’t make a difference, Quorn’s mission is to help shoppers understand the environmental impact of our food choices and how easy it can be to take action.”
Demand for alternative proteins has accelerated over the past few years driven by health and sustainability. The recent success of this year’s Veganuary, with over 500,000 people taking the pledge highlights the growing interest in meat free and plant-based diets.
“It’s now or never – we must all play our part in the change our planet and future needs,” adds Riley. “Society is very aware of the climate issues we currently face as a planet, but now is the time to act. Every year is pivotal to our hopes of addressing the crisis before it’s too late and, in 2021, we encourage everyone to stand up and be counted for the future of both our people and planet.”
“2021 is the time for Quorn,” continues Riley. “We want to kick start a movement, change behaviour and be the food for our future. We’ll be creating a rallying cry to make people feel part of a collective change for good and encouraging them to join Quorn by helping the planet one bite at a time.”
Quorn is advising retailers to stock everyday frozen favourites, such as Quorn Mince, Sausages and Crispy Nuggets, which have all achieved ‘’Netmums Recommends’’ status. These make the introduction to meat free simple and provide shoppers with great-tasting meat free options for the whole family, without having to compromise on their favourite meals.
Pack formats play an important role too, as shoppers look to fill their freezers and cover several weekly meals. Where space allows, retailers should stock these larger formats to meet consumer needs. There has been an uplift in Quorn’s bigger frozen pack sizes, most significantly across Quorn Nuggets 476g (IRI).
There has been higher demand within ingredients sectors across food categories as people have more time to take to scratch cooking more often, and the Frozen category has also seen the benefit of this trend. Quorn’s frozen ingredients range has seen some of the biggest unit gains, specifically Quorn Mince and Quorn Pieces and breaded SKUs, such as Quorn Nuggets, Fishless Fingers and Fillets.
Quorn Crispy Nuggets continue to be one of the brand’s best sellers, worth almost £15m and growing +37% YoY (IRI).
This year Quorn, has launched a new campaign that aims to encourage people to think more about their protein choices and demonstrate how we can all make a real difference by Helping the Planet One Bite at a Time.
The brand will be investing heavily throughout 2021 to show shoppers that switching to Quorn is an easy and delicious change we can all make, that comes with huge benefits to people and the planet alike.
A new TV advert, ‘More to Life than Meat’, uses a light-hearted narrative to demonstrate that anyone regardless of their profession, routine or habits can enjoy switching to Quorn for the good of the planet.
The campaign will be supported by Quorn’s partnership with Liverpool Football Club that challenges LFC fans to go meat free on match days. Skipper Jordan Henderson, alongside star players Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Xherdan Shaqiri, kicked the activity off with a video discussing their own eating habits and the benefits of going meat-free, and invited others to try as part of Helping the Planet One Match at a Time.
The brand is also rolling out a bold new pack design, building on the brand beacon of orange and putting the deliciousness of meat free eating at the heart of the new look.