With many people spending more time at home due to restrictions around COVID-19, ice cream sales continue to increase. Consumers worldwide are facing significant changes to their lifestyles, says Food Union Group, which is using sensory and behavioral research to identify consumer demands. The global dairy production and distribution group’s findings highlight frozen flavor trends and insights that it believes will reflect consumers’ desires for nostalgic favorites from childhood as well as new flavors and more health-conscious options. 

Food Union’s Ice Cream Competence Centre monitors the pulse of these consumer changes with researchers in Latvia and eight other countries studying cultural and behavioral trends. Its research has found that consumers are looking for comfort during the global pandemic. 

“During this time when lives are disrupted, consumers are reaching for food and flavors that provide emotional comfort, make them feel pampered and remind them of childhood,” says Normunds Staņēvičs, CEO of Food Union.

“Consumer cocooning”
Today’s consumers still love traditional flavors like vanilla and chocolate. Still, Food Union is also uncovering new behaviors and preferences in its research showing that consumers are more open to experimentation. “Consumers are trying new flavors and looking for new sensory experiences in greater numbers. More adventurous eaters want to try new, surprising and unexpected flavors. We use these insights from our research to deliver consumer-centered innovation,” notes Ieva Ražinska, Marketing Manager at Food Union Latvia.

Ražinska says new flavors meet consumers’ needs for excitement and novelty during the pandemic’s disruptive lockdowns. Consumers willing to push their boundaries further will be able to try intriguing new flavors that offer sensory and visual disruptions such as sweet and savory mixtures with vegetables, potato chips or other savory snacks. Other unique flavors include the sweet-sour sensation of Ruby chocolate, Japanese-inspired flavors like matcha and mochi, or even hemp and CBD oil.