European ice cream sales increase despite cool economic climate


Ice cream sales in the top five European markets – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK – have increased to £4.6bn from £4.1bn in 2008, according to new research from Mintel.

Sales in the US are expected to reach $6.8m in 2010, it adds.

Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) found that premium lines accounted for 9% of global ice cream product launches in the last six months, while economy lines represented 4% of global launches. Even though ice cream is often seen as an affordable, sweet indulgence, consumers still express an interest in healthier products. Manufacturers have answered, with 13% of all product launches touting a no additives/preservatives claim.

“The strongest ‘healthier’ trend in ice cream has been the removal of additives and preservatives, rather than the limiting of fat, sugar or calories,” said Ana Lourenco, global market navigator analyst at Mintel. “There’s definitely an opportunity for more on-trend super fruit or antioxidant-rich formulations to help make ice cream appear better for you.”

Ice cream packaging developments are focusing on more eco-friendly or recyclable materials, reports Mintel. In the last six months, 13% of ice cream products featured an environmentally-friendly packaging claim, a 6% increase (in terms of share launches) on the previous period, with actual launches doubling.

“Consumers are clamouring for more eco-friendly products in all food and drink categories, and ice cream is no exception,” said Lourenco. “Companies with environmentally-conscious packaging and practices may be able to get a leg up on their competition.”

Germany boasts the most enthusiastic ice cream lovers, with residents shelling out £19 per person on the treat each year. However, all European countries are in agreement when it comes to their favorite flavour: chocolate. Mintel GNPD found over a third (32%) of the total ice cream products launched in the UK in 2009 were chocolate flavoured, compared with 31% in Spain, 22% in Italy, 17% in Germany and 16% in France. In the US, vanilla is the flavour of choice, accounting for 11% of ice cream product launches in 2009. Chocolate is a close second, with 8%.