Typically at this time of year, the ice cream season is under way. Warmer weather means more people out and about buying things like ice cream and cold drinks. Except this year is different. At the time of writing, the UK is still in lockdown with people staying indoors for extended periods. This may not be good news for the impulse ice cream market but it is for take-home products such as tubs of Haagen-Dazs or Ben & Jerry’s, which people can enjoy while binge-watching the latest must-see TV shows.

The aforementioned Haagen-Dazs has taken this on board by teaming up with Secret Cinema to launch Secret Sofa a weekly home entertainment series where audiences can create their own cinema experiences to tie in with its new "Häag-Indoors" initiative.

Every Friday for eight weeks, Secret Sofa will host virtual in-home screenings of Secret Cinema’s most celebrated and critically acclaimed films, as well as lesser-known gems. As part of the experience, people can order Haagen-Dazs direct from Amazon Prime Now to enjoy while watching the film.

Secret Sofa is being used as the launch platform for Häag-Indoors.

Arjoon Bose, Europe head of brand experience and culture at Haagen-Daazs brand owner General Mills, explains: "At Häagen-Dazs, we believe that little luxuries can uplift the everyday, and we always strive to provide moments of joy and enable real connections between people, through our ice cream. This is more important now more than ever. Until life returns to normal, #HaagIndoors is a simple message to stay safe, look after each other, and keep finding little moments of joy."

Kat Jones, marketing manager, ice cream and snacking at General Mills, says there has been an increasing demand for ice cream within the forecourt channel thanks to the growing ’urbanisation’ trend and the brand is keen to tap into this.

"We have found that our smaller formats are much more beneficial for smaller store formats like independent forecourt stores, which is why they are now available in a six case instead of a 12, to cater for their minimal storage on site.

"The reduction in case size is across our entire mini-cup multipack range, including our hugely successful 150 Calorie Gelato Collection. This gives independent retailers the opportunity to capitalise on ice cream sales throughout the year. With more space in the freezer, they can replenish their stock more often and chop and change the flavours they stock to suit all preferences of their shoppers."

Jones says that while there is still an appetite for indulgent ice cream, demand for lower calorie products is on the up. "Most brands don’t offer both, which is where we differ. With the introduction of the 150 Calorie Gelato Collection, we’ve opened up Häagen-Dazs to shoppers looking for the perfect permissible treat. And we’ve seen huge success. Within the ’wellness’ category, our 150 Calorie Gelato Collection has one of highest repeat purchase rates at 29.8% (Nielsen)."

Magnum continues to hold the number one spot in ice cream and brand owner Unilever says it is the main driver for growth in the category. Magnum Classic is the best-selling product in the range (available as a single or in multipacks) but the brand is also doing well with tubs such as White Chocolate & Cookies and Chocolate & Hazelnut Praline. Unilever says the latter flavour has contributed to strong sales and helped the brand become the first ice cream to reach over 10 million buyers.

One of the latest flavours from Ben & Jerry’s is Moo-phoria Poppin’ Popcorn which has chunks of chocolatey covered popcorn, crammed into Fairtrade brown sugar ice cream, all finished with a sweet and salty caramel swirl.

Ben & Jerry’s Moo-phoria range is lighter on fat than its typical ice cream but heavy on chunks and swirls. This means it delivers just 114 calories per 100ml.

Indie alternatives

While the likes of Haagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s are no doubt popular, Christina Veal, director at New Forest Ice Cream, believes consumers are attracted to independent brand manufacturers particularly within the ice cream category because they utilise authentic, quality ingredients and use traditional methods, which achieve the premium product that they crave.

"Here at New Forest Ice Cream, we are committed to using fresh double cream and whole milk to produce the best-quality product every time. The use of traditional desserts and bakery products within the ice cream format is also a big trend.

"Our Strawberry Shortcake ice cream has a clotted cream base combined with real pieces of strawberry and moreish shortcake. These types of flavours are a great way of giving traditional desserts a contemporary twist and this is the perfect fruity addition to kick off peak season."

new products

Lotus Biscoff ice cream is now available in the UK. The premium, individually wrapped, stick-based ice creams are wrapped in a layer of Lotus Biscoff spread and then coated in Belgian milk chocolate and crushed Lotus Biscoff pieces. They come in packs of three, rrp £3.89.
Magnum has become the first ice cream to use ruby chocolate, which is described as a ’fourth type of chocolate’ after dark, milk and white. The chocolate is described as ’fruity’ and ’tangy’.
Dairy Milk chocolate brand Freddo is available in ice cream freezers thanks to Froneri’s launch of the Cadbury Freddo Sandwich. It is made from Cadbury chocolate ice cream sandwiched between two Freddo-faced cocoa biscuits. Rrp is £2.50 for a box of six.
New Cadbury Caramel Tub features caramel ice cream, Cadbury chocolate pieces and an indulgent caramel core sauce. Rrp is £3.
A new Rowntree’s Mix’d Pack is available from Froneri containing 12 full-size ice lollies (3x Fruit Pastilles, 3x Tropical Push Ups, 3x Strawberry and 3x Watermelon ice lollies. Rrp is £3.50. Also new is Rowntree’s Fruit Stack offering strawberry, orange and apple flavours all in one lolly.