Chocolate ice cream flavor overtakes vanilla for the first time in eight years

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Ice cream Vanilla

Picture: Mintel. Is chocolate flavored ice cream becoming more popular?
Picture: Mintel. Is chocolate flavored ice cream becoming more popular?
Nearly 22% of ice cream products launched in the UK in the past 12 months were chocolate flavored, compared to vanilla at 18%, caramel or caramelized flavors at 13% and strawberry at 12%, according to Mintel.  

Its report, Global New Products Database (GNPD), claims after peaking in popularity in 2013/14, when 34% of products were vanilla flavored, the popularity of vanilla is in decline with less than one in five (18%) products launched with a vanilla flavor in 2015/16.

'Indulgent factor'

On the other hand, chocolate has been rising steadily over the past three years, increasing from 15% of all UK ice cream products in 2013/2014 to 22% in 2015/2016.

Alex Beckett, analyst, global food and drink, Mintel, said because ice cream is still a popular treat with consumers, it is inspiring manufacturers to be more innovative.

While health is a booming innovation trend in ice cream, with dairy and sugar-free launches, some brands are going the opposite route and ramping up the indulgent factor. Hence more chocolate and caramel​,” he said.  

This is further proof British ice cream trends emulate those of the US, where chocolate has been the top ice cream launch flavor for years​.”       

Thomas Koefer, commercial manager, Freezing & Inclusion, Tetra Pak, told DairyReporter ice cream is one of the world’s favorite desserts, and consumers love nothing more than being tempted with new recipes and flavors to try.

Our customers generally renew their ice cream range by about 30% every year to enable them to meet the growing demand for novelty​,” he said.

Rossi Ice Cream in the UK recently trialed a Black Vanilla Ice Cream​ made from 100% pure virgin coconut shell activated charcoal.

With 80% of the products’ value residing in the ingredients, it’s very exciting to see this new and unique product formulation from Rossi Ice Cream​,” added Koefer. 

Gelato in Europe remains low

According to the Mintel report, it’s not just chocolate that is stirring innovators, Brits also like caramel and caramelized flavors. It said the number of products with a caramel or caramelized flavor has risen from 6% of all UK new ice cream products in 2011/2012 to 13% in 2015/16.

Also, 48% of British consumers are interested in ice cream made with high-quality chocolate from premium chocolatiers and cocoa from a specific region, with premium quality products peaking among 16-24 year olds (57%).

It found consumption of gelato in Europe remains low with fewer than three in 10 German (29%) and Spanish (27%) consumers eating it in 2015, falling to fewer than one in five (19%) French consumers.

However, the Mintel research suggests the popularity of gelato is spreading globally, and there is strong demand in European markets for gelato to be made more widely available at retail.

Mintel GNPD shows a 95% increase in global gelato introductions over the past five years. Meanwhile, one in five (20%) Brits believe gelato tastes better than other ice cream, peaking at 31% of 16-24s.

While the rest of the world is taking longer to develop a taste for gelato, there are signs it could one day boast a global appeal as consumer tastes are becoming more sophisticated​,” said Beckett.

In the UK, consumer appetite for gelato has grown in line with increased new product development activity in supermarkets. A number of supermarkets now have a private label gelato range, and branded offerings are slowly emerging​.

Gelato is well-placed to continue benefiting from a consumer mind-set that reasons ‘If I’m going to buy ice cream, I want the good stuff​’.”

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