Plant-based ice cream is growing fast

Consumers around the world are fascinated by plant-based innovations, and ice cream is no exception. New research from Mintel’s Global New Product Database (GNPD) shows that plant-based ice cream is making up an increasing proportion of global ice cream product launches, accounting for 7% of all product launches over the past 12 months, more than three Double the previous 3%).

—Plant-based ice cream accounts for 7% of all global ice cream product launches
—Japan overtakes US as global ice cream innovation leader
—16% of Britons would eat more ice cream if ice cream had added protein

Plant-based ice cream

When it comes to plant-based flavor innovations, chocolate (26% of innovations over the past 12 months), vanilla (11%) and coconut (9%) remain the most popular.

Meanwhile, 12% of UK adults agree that Covid-19 has made plant-based diets more attractive, almost doubling (23%) among adults under 25.

Plant-Based Ice Cream in Japan

Over the past five years, Japanese ice cream innovation has gone from strength to strength. Japan accounted for 7% of global product launches in 2015/16, but innovation has exploded since then, and currently Japan contributes one-tenth (10%) of product launches, surpassing the US as the global ice cream innovation leader. Meanwhile, the US currently accounts for 9% of new product launches, relegating to second place.

With a 6% share of global ice cream innovation, Germany is the number one ice cream innovator in Europe and third in global innovation, while the UK has a 4% share.

Japanese ice cream

Mintel Global Food & Beverage Analyst Kate Vlietstra said:
“Japanese consumers have a sweet tooth, and after trying to drive year-round consumption, many ice cream innovations have sprung up in Japan in recent years. The exotic flavors and exciting formats have put Japanese ice cream at the forefront of food innovation, while offering a boost to ice cream outside of Japan. The launch offers a wealth of inspiration. The growing popularity of Japanese cuisine is paving the way for ice cream brands to tap into traditional Japanese flavors like hojicha and yuzu. Weird combinations, unique flavors and chic cones all help appeal to consumers around the world.”High potential for protein supplementation

Consumer appetite for protein is growing; over the past five years, food and beverage launches featuring high/supplementary protein claims have doubled from 2% to 4% of all food and beverages. Meanwhile, over the past four years, ice cream claims to be high/supplemented protein have grown from less than 1% ice cream to over 2%. Although the numbers are small, it highlights the opportunity for ice cream with supplemental protein. One in six (16%) UK consumers would eat more ice cream if the ice cream had supplemental protein.

Mintel Global Food & Beverage Analyst Kate Vlietstra said:
“Ice cream is a recreational food; small amounts of protein will satisfy consumer demand for healthier options while allowing brands to explore different protein options. Plant-based proteins from soy, grains and seeds provide a high-protein alternative to dairy protein. Sustainability It has been an important topic of discussion, the ice cream category needs to demonstrate that it is ethical in order to continue to win over consumers, and plant-based protein can be attractive because of its lower carbon footprint than dairy protein.”