It should come as no great surprise to learn that sales of ice cream did well in 2018. Lots of hot, sunny weather led to increased sales with impulse sales up 24% in convenience channel to £124m and take-home sales up 16% to reach £184m (Nielsen data). And although the summer definitely helped sales, ice cream is now proven to be a year-round seller with 31% of sales occurring during the winter.

Of course, the British weather tends to do what it likes so in February when there was a week of warm weather, Froneri says sales were up 88% versus the same week the year before.

Kat Jones, marketing manager, ice cream and snacking at General Mills, says: "Last year saw strong sales in ice cream, largely thanks to the amazing summer. But retailers need to be savvy with their stock to make the most of the category all year round." She adds that retailers also need to ensure they have the right range of luxury ice cream tubs to maximise sales. "Retailers should also stock on-trend flavours and brands to reach millennials. This has been a key focus for us; last year we revealed a new look, receiving great feedback for our new ’Instagram-friendly’ aesthetic.

"While Häagen-Dazs has become a must stock few brands have seen the growth (+28% value - Nielsen) we’ve experienced over the past two years we’re not stopping there. As a brand we continue to innovate and evolve our brand, to meet consumers’ desires and needs."

This innovation includes the launch of lower-calorie ice creams. The new Gelato Collection comprises two minicup flavours: Caramel Swirl and Chocolate Drizzle. Rrp is £4.99.

General Mills says that typically, ice cream falls into two areas regular ice cream or low calorie, but it says its Gelato sits between the two.

Unlike other reduced-calorie ice creams on the market, Häagen-Dazs Gelato has a lower air content, which results in a "richer, creamier and more velvety experience for consumers." Jones says: "The Gelato collection is our biggest launch this year and we’re really excited about it. The new flavours come in a minicup format with 150 calories per pack, plus there’s 30% less sugar and 50% less fat than regular ice cream, making it the perfect permissible treat. We developed the range with traditional Italian Gelaterias in mind and the end result tastes just as indulgent but with fewer calories. We’re expecting the Gelato collection to attract new shoppers to the ice cream category, especially in the minicups format, as it’s perfect for on the go or after dinner as a sweet treat," adds Jones.

Research by Mars had found that ice cream is a popular dessert choice for home entertaining and big nights in, with 75% of respondents to their survey stating that they would offer ice cream to their guests.

When asked what three things they look for when selecting an ice cream to purchase, 75% of consumers look for great taste, followed by quality (55%), low price (44%) and recognised brands (21%).

There is a clear winner in terms of the ice cream format people would choose when entertaining at home, with 54% of hosts opting for sharing tubs, with 24% choosing ice cream on a stick and 22% an ice cream bar.

Michelle Frost, general manager at Mars Ice Cream, says: "Ice cream in all its many formats has without doubt become a popular dessert choice for big nights in and other home-entertaining occasions.

"It has also moved from being just a summer staple to an all-year-round favourite. The research also revealed that just 15% of consumers only have ice cream at home in the summer, with almost half of all consumers (48%) keeping some in the freezer throughout the year."

Lighter choices

Over at Unilever, they have added two new flavours to the Ben & Jerry’s Moo-phoria lower-fat, lower-calorie range.

New Salted Caramel Brownie and Chocolate Cookies & Cream are made with Fairtrade-certified ingredients, with each 100ml serving containing just 124-132 calories.

They join existing Moo-phoria flavours, Caramel Cookie Fix and Chocolate Cookie Dough. Rrp is £6.

Christina Dunn, Ben & Jerry’s UK & Ireland country business lead, says: "Even though we’re known for our chunky and swirly indulgence, we want to show ice cream fans that they can make lighter choices without compromising on taste.

"The range has been flying off shelves since the launch last year, so we’re excited to build on its success and give fans even more choice with two irresistible new flavours to enjoy."

Unilever is also expanding its Breyers range with a new dairy-free variant Breyers Dairy-Free Chocolate & Hazelnut that answers consumer demands for a low-calorie, vegan friendly ice cream product.

Noel Clarke, vice president for refreshements at Unilever UK, comments: "We launched Breyers to rewrite the rules and create an ice cream that’s big on taste but low in calories. The lower-calorie segment is growing fast and Breyers has been a key factor in the category’s success it’s one of Unilever’s most successful brand launches in ice cream in the last five years. To take it to the next level, we’re introducing a new vegan-friendly flavour to open up the brand to even more consumers who enjoy a dairy-free diet."

In addition to the new dairy-free tub, Unilever is also introducing Breyers Mono Portions featuring two of the brand’s most popular flavours, Salted Caramel Cake and Cookies & Cream, in a convenient new 100ml format.

Another dairy-free line from Unilever is Vegan Magnum, made with pea protein. However, the UK’s number one ice cream brand hasn’t forgotten the mainstream market and has this covered with the launch of Magnum White Chocolate & Cookies, available as a handheld stick and in tubs, supported by a £5m marketing spend.

Perfect balance

Clarke says Magnum White Chocolate & Cookies contains the perfect balance of cracking white chocolate and velvety ice cream, with cookie crumb pieces and a chocolate cookie sauce swirl.

"This new flavour is designedto help retailers capitalise on the growing trend for white chocolate, while also appealing to cookie fans a flavour driving growth across ice cream and confectionery."

Magnum White Chocolate is the brand’s second biggest SKU, so not only will the new range appeal to existing fans, it should also attract new shoppers, adding incremental growth to the indulgent ice cream category.

Meanwhile, Unilever has announced a first-time collaboration with Ferrero to bring Kinder and Kinder Bueno ice cream to the UK, following a successful launch in Europe last year. The two new ice cream ranges include three fun Kinder products that are set to drive value into the kids’ ice cream segment, as well as a Kinder Bueno Ice Cream Cone described as "the perfect grown-up treat".

New Kinder Ice Cream Stick, Ice Cream Sandwich and the Kinder Joy Ice Cream each contain 100 calories or less and are made with fresh milk and high-quality ingredients.

The new Bueno Ice Cream Cone features creamy hazelnut ice cream with milk chocolate sauce inside.

The new range features strong Kinder branding to ensure it is instantly recognisable to fans.

Attracting young, adult consumers

Froneri is launching the Nuii indulgent sticks brand in the UK and across Europe. The company says it has identified an opportunity to add value to the category with a product for younger adult consumers looking for flavours that are more adventurous and creative.
Targeting the adult evening snack occasion, there are three flavours in the impulse line-up: Salted Caramel & Australian Macadamia; Cookies & Idaho Valley Mint; and Almond & Java Vanilla. All have rrps of £2. Each stick is made with real cream, coated in a thick layer of premium chocolate and an artisanal finish. The cocoa used in Nuii products supports responsible, sustainable cocoa farming.
Charlotte Hambling, UK head of marketing at Froneri, says: "The indulgent sticks sector continues to drive growth in both ice cream and the wider grocery market. However, there’s a real gap to add incremental growth by appealing to the adventure-seeking, taste- discerning audience who are looking for a premium stick that fulfils their indulgent treat requirements for an evening snack.
"Nuii takes premium indulgence to the next level. The quality of the ingredients we have sourced, and the artisanal finish conveys the care and attention that goes in to every one of the Nuii sticks."
To support the launch, Froneri is investing £3m in a marketing campaign to run throughout 2019. It includes outdoor, print, experiential, social and digital as well as a shopper marketing campaign to encourage trial by introducing consumers to the range closer to the point of purchase.

product news

Tubs are first choice in ice cream format for entertaining at home, according to research from Mars Ice Cream. The company offers Mars, Snickers and Maltesers ice cream all in tubs.
Cadbury Double Decker has been added to Froneri’s range of super premium tubs. Rrp is £3. It joins Cadbury Crunchie, Cadbury Flake and Creme Egg. According to Nielsen data, Cadbury super premium tubs are growing ahead of the sector at 11.8%.
New Skittles Cooler combines a fruity flavoured ice cream, with crunchy pieces, wrapped in a strawberry sorbet made with fruit. Rrp is £1.76. It joins Mars’ other single ices including the Mars and Snickers ice cream bars.
The Kinder confectionery brand has entered ice cream freezers for the first time in the UK, following a successful launch across Europe last year. There are four products including the Kinder Bueno cone.
Haagen-Dazs is enjoying huge growth with sales up 28% according to Nielsen data. It is particularly popular for evening occasions such as the big night in.
Daim has joined the Cadbury stick range, which is the fastest- growing branded stick range in the category, delivering 50.4% growth (Nielsen).