Ice cream prices have risen by more than a quarter over the past five years and sales volumes have declined, but most Europeans still consider ice cream an affordable treat, according to new research from Mintel.
The market research organisation found that Norwegians spend more on ice cream each year than any other nationality, at £33 (€41) per person, compared to the Swiss who spend £25/€31, Swedes and Finns (£24/€30), and the British (£17/€21). Meanwhile, Americans eat the most ice cream per person, at 17 litres a year, far ahead of Norwegians – their closest European rival in terms of volume – who consume an average of 10.2 litres a year.
In the UK, the ice cream, sorbet and frozen yoghurt market has grown 19% in the past five years, from £910m to £1.1bn (€1.1 to €1.4bn) in 2012 – but growth has been driven by higher prices, as volumes were down 7% during the same period.
Referring to the UK market in particular, senior food analyst at Mintel Amy Price said: “While the market has been fuelled by inflation which has seen the average price per litre of ice cream rise by more than a quarter over the past five years, ice cream remains an affordable treat for most of the nation. Ice cream occupies an affordable price position in the context of the overall food market, the relatively cheap cost being one of the most important drivers of underlying growth throughout the economic downturn, helping to position ice cream as an affordable treat.”
A lack of freezer storage space and aspirations to eat better were among reasons cited by those in single person households for not buying ice cream, which could be bad news for ice cream manufacturers, as such households are on the rise.
“Marketing single-serve products around the notion of a one-off permissible treat should allow brands and own-label players to appeal to the growing number of one-person households who are both short on storage space and are reducing their consumption of ice cream for health reasons,” Price said.
In the UK, sorbet sales by value fell 17% from 2009 to 2011, while frozen yoghurt sales rocketed by 50% over the same period – although it only accounts for about 1% of all ice cream sales.