With both dairy and non-dairy better-for-you options, Enlightened has become a category leader in the US for ‘light’ ice cream, competing with Halo Top and big brand offshoots from Ben & Jerry’s for the health-driven consumer.
Enlightened got its start with novelties, launching a line of naked dairy ice cream bars in 2012. Now that line includes flavors like Mint Chip Swirl, Sea Salt Caramel and Red Velvet that are between 70-100 calories per bar.
The brand then moved into dairy pints, expanding to its current 32-flavor lineup including Glazed Donut, French Toast, Strawberry Cheesecake and more. Then it was time to get into the dairy-free game, which CEO and founder Michael Shoretz said launched in late 2018.
There are seven non-dairy pints, which Shoretz said consumers had been requesting for several years. The non-dairy bars were a natural progression, and were officially launched with five flavors in April.
"With the introduction of our dairy-free pints, we began serving a whole new community, and offering our dairy-free bars was the next logical step. But whether you're dairy-free or just an ice cream lover, we're confident you'll love our new bars,” Shoretz said at the time of the launch.
He told DairyReporter that he sees the bars as the most crucial aspect of the brand because they were a novelty and ahead of the ‘light’ ice cream landscape when they first debuted.
“I think people appreciate the built-in portion control to satisfy an eating experience with protein, that’s still low in sugar and still tastes good,” he said.
Facing trouble merging trends
Also this year, Enlightened has expanded its dairy bars with a few chocolate-coated varieties. Vanilla Milk Chocolate and Vanilla Dark Chocolate Almond contain 150 calories and less than 10g of sugar per bar, and were on display at the Fancy Food show.
Shoretz said the bars have already been successful with those looking for a spoon-free, better-for-you ice cream option. Enlightened may roll out more coated bars next year, particularly with dark chocolate.
“It speaks to people that are looking for indulgent tasting items that still have health benefits,” Shoretz said.
Now that Enlightened is equally producing both dairy and non-dairy items in the better-for-you ice cream industry, they have had to work to maintain consistent taste and texture that health-driven consumers are expecting from desserts.
“I think with a lot of healthier trends, the problem tends to be that the products that have merged aren’t necessarily giving consumers what they want, especially in the indulgent categories like ice cream,” Shoretz said.
He understands that taste is always the number one concern for consumers, and always welcomes feedback. As their dairy-free products are made from a base of almonds, one of the biggest critiques Enlightened hears is requests for a nut-free, dairy-free range, which he says the brand is looking into.