IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘U.S. Ice Cream And Frozen Dessert Market. Analysis And Forecast to 2025‘. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings:

In 2020, despite the pandemic, the total ice cream consumption in the U.S. increased by 4.3% to 3.8M tonnes, rising for the second year in a row. However, lockdown waves affected the sales channels, as people started to purchase ice cream more often in hypermarkets than in cafes. 

This also leads to a shift in packaging from bulk HoReCa containers to family and single packs suitable for different scenarios of home eating. Should the pandemic wane in 2021, the market is set to recover gradually. Rising demand from the growing population in the U.S. should become the key driver of the market growth. 

The more people are involved in the vaccination, the faster they can return to pre-pandemic behavior patterns. When the limitations on HoReCa and tourism could be lifted, it certainly should propel the market growth. 

Against these prerequisites, the ice cream market is projected to expand with an annual anticipating rate of +0.3% over the next decade, which is set to bring 4.8M tonnes by 2030. 

Key trends and Insights
Ice cream is an established and popular dessert among Americans. The U.S. has the second-largest ice cream consumption in the world. Particularly high demand for the product is observed in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana.

The pandemic did not lead to a reduction in the consumption of ice cream in the U.S. but significantly affected the distribution channels for this product. The closure of the HoReCa segment and restrictions on the retail sector during the lockdown led to a decrease in sales in these sectors. 

People made fewer impulse purchases in small retail stores, while ice cream sales in large hypermarkets, especially in bulk packaging, increased dramatically, as consumers began to “stock up for future use” during the pandemic. This leads to a shift in packaging from bulk containers for HoReCa to family and single-person packs suitable for different scenarios of home eating.

As quarantine restrictions ease, the ice cream market is stabilizing in the new environment. The onset of the summer season should give a new impetus to market growth since traditionally high sales volumes are recorded in the period from May to September. 

Consumer research and marketing campaigns remain key tools in driving ice cream sales. Traditional vanilla and chocolate ice cream enjoy robust demand, while among the fruit types of ice cream, strawberry remains the most popular, and among the nut types – ice cream with a pecan flavor. 

Premium ice cream brands showed an increase in consumption as in the face of a limited supply, Americans are more likely to try new unfamiliar ice cream brands. 

If the pandemic recedes in 2021, as the economy gradually recovers, HoReCa resumes its full operation and the U.S. population grows, the ice cream market is forecast to grow gradually over the next decade. 

Manufacturers are expected to expand their product range with new flavors and “innovative products” such as low-calorie diet ice cream, vegan soy ice cream, and handmade ice cream. In the context of the trend towards a healthy lifestyle, consumer preferences are expected to shift towards ice cream with natural ingredients, without artificial colors and flavors. 

Against this background, the consumption volume is forecast to grow with an anticipated CAGR of +0.3% for the period from 2020 to 2030, which is projected to depress the market volume to 4.8M tonnes by the end of 2030.

Ice cream imports into the U.S.
For the third year in a row, the U.S. recorded growth in purchases abroad of ice cream and frozen dessert, which increased by 39% to 39K tonnes in 2020. In value terms, ice cream imports soared to $139M (IndexBox estimates) in 2020. 

In 2020, Mexico (12K tonnes) constituted the largest supplier of ice cream to the U.S., with a 30% share of total imports. Moreover, ice cream imports from Mexico exceeded the figures recorded by the second-largest supplier, South Korea (3.9K tonnes), threefold. The third position in this ranking was occupied by Taiwan (Chinese) (3K tonnes), with a 7.8% share.

From 2012 to 2020, the average annual rate of growth in terms of volume from Mexico was relatively modest. The remaining supplying countries recorded the following average annual rates of imports growth: South Korea (+9.3% per year) and Taiwan (Chinese) (+33.7% per year).

In value terms, Taiwan (Chinese) ($24M), South Korea ($16M) and Canada ($14M) were the largest ice cream suppliers to the U.S., together comprising 38% of total imports. These countries were followed by Italy, South Africa, Germany, Russia, Thailand, Mexico, Israel, Belgium, India and Lithuania, which together accounted for a further 47%.

In 2020, the average ice cream import price amounted to $3,570 per tonne, rising by 19% against the previous year. There were significant differences in the average prices amongst the major supplying countries. 

In 2020, the country with the highest price was Taiwan (Chinese) ($7,841 per tonne), while the price for Mexico ($360 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.