Probiotics push into UK iced lollies

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Ice cream, Milk, Unilever

Unilever has joined the growing number of manufacturers exploring
new ways of delivering probiotics by launching an iced lolly aimed
at children in the UK.

The frozen yoghurt product is aimed at health-conscious parents and comes at a time when ice cream sales have been falling across western Europe. It fell 1.8 per cent in 2006-07 according to Euromonitor, with a cool European summer and mounting concerns about obesity being cited as contributing factors. The market researcher said players like Unilever, which is the world's biggest ice cream maker with a 17.7 per cent share, were looking to the health and wellness trend to boost revenues and attract new consumers. Unilever possesses 25 per cent of the western European ice cream market. Probiotic time ​ The Unilever ice cream, part of its Walls Milk Time range, also included 30 per cent of the UK Recommended Daily Allowance for calcium."The probiotic ice lolly is quite a niche product which will require intensive promotional support,"​ Euromonitor said. "Unilever has a vast distribution network that should allow it to reach a large consumer base in a short time." Unilever is also forgoing the premium pricing that sees many probiotic products being consumed predominantly by those with higher disposable incomes. It is retailing​ for €0.38.Other regions ​The development of healthy indulgence foods such as chocolate, confectionery and ice cream is a small but growing market but one strewn with failures as their message can confuse consumers. Some even wonder whether consumers want healthy benefits from their 'luxury' foods. Yet development continues. A scan of Mintel's New Products Database reveals there were 35 probiotic frozen dessert launches between 2006 and the present in countries such as Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Columbia, India and China. Indian company Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation launched two probiotic ice creams - Amul Sugar Free Probiotic Frozen Dessert and Amul Prolife Probiotic Wellness Ice Cream - in 2007 with the former targeting diabetics and the latter being sold on a broader wellness platform. Euromonitor noted low-fat ice creams had largely failed in India, although the fact they are 'free-from' foods rather than delivering a targeted functional benefit may be a contributing factor. In Latin America, Chr Hansen has developed a probiotic ice cream with a Costa Rican ice cream producer. Euromonitor predicted Unilever, which is also the Latin American market leader, would not be far behind. Unilever also recently purchased the Russian dairy Inmarko, which has a well-established health and wellness portfolio, as part of its bid to increase its presence in eastern Europe from a relatively threadbare six per cent. "This is one example of a brand with health and wellness features that Unilever can build on,"​ Euromonitor said. Other functional frozen dessert innovation trends include hemp and soy ice cream.

Related topics: Markets, Functional Dairy

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