Ice cream is once again making food industry headlines, with old flavors being reinvented and an entire menu of new dairy-free, fat-free, and low-cal options generating excitement – as well as controversy. On the table are questions such as: Are the so-called healthier alternatives really better for you? Can you trust what you read on the label? And how can you update your foodservice menu to meet demands for fabulous, far-out ice cream flavors served in unusual cones or new-fangled dishes?
As foodservice pros, it’s critical that you follow industry trends to know what’s hot and what’s not in the food-and-beverage landscape. This guide to what’s new in ice cream was specifically designed to give you the full scoop on what manufacturers are delivering and how consumers’ taste buds are responding in the land of frozen desserts. So let’s take a peek inside the freezer to see what the 2019 world of ice cream has in store.
Ice Cream Renaissance
One thing we know for sure about the ice cream biz is that as one flavor or trend melts away, another is already taking its place at the top of the whipped cream and cherry mound. Ice cream frontrunners in 2019 are following other current trends, explains Denice Purcell from the Specialty Food Association’s Trendspotter panel: “The Trendspotters are seeing major shifts in how consumers are eating. These shifts are providing us with amazing options, along with the opportunity to change how we eat and how food is created. Old favorites like ice cream are being reinvented…and much of this can be attributed to innovations happening in areas like sustainability, the plant-based movement, and desire for deeper regional flavors…”
Adding to these insights is Mark Meyer, senior vice president of Wells Enterprises (the third-largest ice cream manufacturer in the United States next to Nestlé and Breyers), who says that today’s consumers want it all. Some seek new flavors, others clean label; some reject additives, preservatives, fats, and sugars, while others are simply hungry for an over-the-top premium product to indulge in. The challenge, claims Meyer, is meeting the multitude of these often conflicting demands.
Ice Cream Gets a Modern-Day Makeover
The ice cream industry has responded in kind by presenting a plethora of diverse products designed to please the palates of ice cream lovers everywhere. With ‘better-for-you’ foods and beverages dominating the global scene, it is no surprise to see this trend reflected in frozen desserts. Whether you’re walking down the freezer aisle or hungrily eyeing a restaurant menu, savvy companies are offering a wider array of ice cream flavors and alternatives, including dairy-free varieties made from coconut, soy, almond, and oat milk, low-cal/low-fat/high protein options, and innovative blends such as jasmine ice cream with a floral green tea infusion, Japanese black sesame ice cream, fried ice cream rolls, cantaloupe ice cream, chickpea ice cream, dragon fruit cream sorbet, and more.
I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream for…
Avocado? Yes, you heard it right. Also making headlines is Cado Avocado ice cream recently released by Whole Foods. Being hailed as ‘the next best thing,’ it is a gluten-free, soy-free, vegan, paleo-friendly, non-dairy ice cream made with an avocado base. Here is what company co-founder Jack Dowd had to say in a recent interview: “The avocado base offers more nutrition and a superior fat, doesn’t compete with traditional ice cream flavors, has a really creamy quality just like ice cream, and you can indulge but still feel good after eating it. Everybody should be eating this, we thought!”
The brand is currently available in Deep Dark Chocolate, Simply Lemon, and Mint Chocolate Chip, while anticipated upcoming flavors include Vanilla, Java Chip, and Cherry Amaretto.
Avocado Ice Cream Recipe
If your stomach is starting to rumble or if the chef inside you is chomping at the bit to try your hand at creating the next to-die-for ice cream flavor, here is one ice cream recipe you can experiment with. Remember: Wowing your customers and creating a buzz for your biz are key ingredients in the recipe for modern restaurant business success, so adapt your dessert menus accordingly and remember to cash in on the free marketing opportunities available when you post photos of your standout ice cream creations on Instagram and other social media sites.
Recipe: Mint Chocolate Avocado Ice Cream
- 2 ripe avocados
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1/4 cup honey, maple syrup, or other liquid sweetener
- 1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
- 1 tbsp. coconut oil
- 1/4 cup mini chocolate-chips (dairy-free)
- In a high-power blender, combine all ingredients except for the chocolate chips.
- Blend until creamy and smooth.
- Stir in chocolate chips.
- Pour into freezer-safe container or line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
- Defrost 10-15 before serving to soften.
- Scoop and enjoy!
Halo Top Ice Cream – The Scoop and the Verdict
If creating a stir and being the talk of the town is a lofty food industry goal, then you could say that Halo Top ice cream scored a bulls-eye over the past few years. The reduced-calorie ice cream made with natural and organic ingredients took the market by storm, outselling legends such as Ben & Jerry’s and Haagen Dazs and captivating consumers’ with their famous tag line “Stop When You Hit the Bottom,” referring to the pint-size carton the light dessert is sold in. Also marketed as a good source of protein, Halo Top’s nutrient content does impress: It contains only half the calories of regular ice cream, is lower in fat, sugar, and cream, comes in nondairy and vegan varieties (made with coconut milk), contains 5 grams of protein per 1/2 cup (double the amount in regular ice cream), and 10% of the RDI for calcium.
Yet despite its rise to stardom and claim to fame, not everybody in the industry has been eating it up. In fact, health experts and dieticians are questioning the validity of numerous frozen dessert products being marketed as ‘guilt-free,’ ‘zero guilt,’ and even ‘healthy.’ In the case of Halo ice cream, it still contains additives to replace regular sugar and aspersions have been cast on its marketing campaign encouraging eating the entire portion at one serving.
The fact is that despite its nutritional assets, Halo Top is still a processed food that does not stack up when measured against the nutritional content and health benefits of naturally sweet whole foods and fruits. Furthermore, say health experts, eating an entire pint at once promotes unhealthy eating habits.
The takeaway for restaurant owners and all foodservice pros? Heed what you print on your labels and be sure that the ingredients you list as “healthy” are indeed what they are cracked up to be. For in a food-and-beverage landscape where demand for authenticity and validation is sky-high, scrutiny is everywhere.
Ice Cream Tubs Spread the Message of Waste Prevention
If you’re thirsty for even more info on what’s new in ice cream, you may want to lap up the latest ice cream-flavored coffees offered by sister brands Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins (check out their new banana split and pistachio almond fudge iced coffees). To gain a competitive edge in your own business, use these featured flavors to inspire your own creative juices as you update your restaurant and catering service dessert menus.
But if you’re craving some really noteworthy industry news, take a huge bite of the following. Announcing the debut of one of the most innovative fight-against-food-wastage strategies is the Australian-owned company Bulla Family Dairy, which has reinvented the wheel by partnering with Publicis Worldwide to manufacture a classic ice cream tub that can be reused as a sandcastle maker instead of being tossed to the trash. Their goal is to boost recycling efforts while reducing the number of plastic containers that end up in the landfill.
Innovative Products Pave The Future of Ice Cream
Finally, here is a truly indulgent and decadent treat: For a first look into the future of ice cream, check out the 10 innovations described in Mintel’s Global News Products Database, as well as the scoop from Consumer Reports, which dug into pint after pint of ‘healthier’ and ‘lighter’ options to test if any of them hit the sweet spot… But for some even edgier pioneering concoctions, here is what is showing up in ice cream’s crystal ball:
- Spaghetti-style stranded ice cream
- Powdered ice cream, created by Michelin-star chef Seiji Yamamoto and made by freezing ice cream in liquid nitrogen, chopping the frozen pieces into a powder in a food processor, and using the powder (which can be stored) to make ice creams and whipped cream with a heavenly taste and texture
- Dondurma, a Turkish creation and street vendor delight featuring an ice cream texture that is so malleable that it sticks and stretches like toffee and mozzarella cheese and its cones can be juggled! The secret ingredients? Mastic tree gum and salep orchid, two Mediterranean rarely cultivated plants
- Mochi ice cream dumplings, comprised of a sweetened rice dough with a mild marshmallow flavor and Play-Doh consistency wrapped around an ice cream ball. Now trending in parts of the U.S. as the new finger food, be on the lookout for the rise of mochi boutiques
- Sugar-and-cinnamon coated doughnut cones
- Glow in the Dark Ice Cream: You have to see it to believe it, but this ice cream doesn’t only glow in the dark: It is made from bioluminescent jellyfish proteins that glow in response to the acid present in saliva and gets brighter with each lick! However, at least for the time being, you might be left out in the cold if you can’t muster up $225 per cone for a taste…
We hope you enjoyed this update on what’s new in ice cream and good luck featuring new ‘flavors of the day’ in your dessert menus.