Since 2015, when regulations in the UK were changed, ice cream no longer needs to include 5% dairy fat and 2.5% milk protein, paving the way for cheaper ingredients to be used in the popular product.
And while the cost of vanilla has increased recently, meaning using substitutes keeps prices lower, the same cannot be said of milk, which continues to see surpluses and relatively static farmgate prices. However, using other cheaper forms of milk, which still satisfy the criteria for the product to be called ice cream, can still significantly reduce the cost for the producer.
Now, consumer watchdog Which? has published a report in which it investigated 24 vanilla ice creams, including Häagen-Dazs, Carte D’Or, Ben & Jerry’s, Wall’s and some store brands.
Of the 24, the report said, five contained no cream, no fresh milk and no vanilla, while seven were missing at least one of those three key ingredients.
Häagen-Dazs tops list
The five ice creams that had no trace of fresh milk, cream or vanilla were Asda, Ms Molly’s, Morrisons, Tesco and Wall’s.
Of the 12 ice creams that did contain all three, the ice cream with the most authentic ingredients was Häagen-Dazs vanilla, which contains fresh cream (39%), condensed skimmed milk, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla extract, and costs £9.13 ($11.78) per liter.
The 12 ice creams containing cream, fresh milk and vanilla:
Asda Extra Special Madagascan Vanilla Ice Cream
Beechdean Farmhouse Vanilla Dairy Ice Cream
Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla ice Cream
Green & Blacks Organic Vanilla ice Cream
Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream
Jude’s Very Vanilla Ice Cream
Kelly’s of Cornwall Dairy Vanilla Cornish Ice Cream
Movenpick Vanilla Dream Ice Cream
Rossi Ice Cream Vanilla Ice Cream
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Madagascan Vanilla Ice Cream
Waitrose Vanilla Dairy Ice Cream
Yeo Valley Organic Vanilla Ice Cream
Which? said seven of the ice creams investigated were missing at least one of the key ingredients. Carte D’Or, for example, contains vanilla, but no fresh cream or milk. Asda Soft Scoop Cornish Vanilla Ice Cream doesn’t contain vanilla but does consist of fresh cream and fresh milk on the ingredients list.
The report states cream and milk are often substituted with partially reconstituted dried skimmed milk and in some cases whey protein. Vanilla is often replaced with a general ‘flavoring’, which can be vanillin, a synthetically-made flavor.
Other ingredients Which? found in the ice creams included vegetable fats, such as palm oil, coconut oil and palm kernel oil – mostly in soft scoop, cheaper brands and own-brand varieties, but also in Carte D’Or.
These oils often replace actual cream because they’re cheaper, but still give a smooth and creamy texture. Water is the main ingredient in Tesco’s vanilla ice cream, followed by sugar, reconstituted dried skimmed milk and buttermilk powder.
DairyReporter contacted Asda, Morrison’s, Tesco (which also includes the Ms Molly’s brand) and Unilever for comment.
Unilever said, “We have a range of ice creams to provide our fans with a wide choice to meet different tastes and preferences. Our Wall’s Soft Scoop Vanilla Ice Cream is a family ice cream that is easy to scoop and can be enjoyed straight from the freezer and includes concentrated skimmed milk, which comes from fresh cow’s milk, as well as vanilla flavouring. All of the ingredients are clearly labelled on our packs and meet the ice cream regulatory standards.”