“Pleasure” remains the sought-after attribute in ice cream, with consumers naming taste and indulgent qualities as primary reasons driving purchases. In the contemporary consumer environment, however, balancing indulgence with health is increasingly important and a new report from Innova Market Insights highlights the ice cream category’s growing focus on delivering pleasure without the guilt. Meanwhile, the non-dairy movement is also impacting ice cream innovation as significantly growing numbers of consumers explore plant-based eating.

“Non-dairy ice creams tripled their share of total ice cream launches in North America between 2015 and 2019, reaching a significant figure of 18 percent penetration,” Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights tells FoodIngredientsFirst. “Meanwhile, Australasia and West Europe are other important stamping grounds with 15 percent and 9 percent non-dairy penetration, respectively.”

Innova Market Insights pegged the “Plant-Based Revolution” as its number two trend expected to drive NPD this year. The market researcher reveals an almost 50 percent average annual growth in vegan desserts and ice creams launched over the past five years. In this space, global ice cream manufacturer Froneri recently launched the vegan brand RØAR last month – as plant-based meal occasions increase.

But the challenges in developing craveable dairy-free products remain pronounced. According to a recent survey by Kerry, consumers described plant-based ice cream as “less creamy,” “gritty,” “grainy,” even compared to “sawdust,” while taste was described as “flavorless,” “weird,” “off” and “takes a while to get used to.” Solving these associated texture and taste challenges can significantly boost appeal in NPD.