10 Ice Cream Trends and Innovations Changing the Dessert Industry in 2022

by | Apr 20, 2022 | Food Trends

Five different flavors of ice cream scoops surrounded by fruits, chocolate, and cones

Ice cream has long been a favorite treat for consumers. Today, it continues to grow in popularity because businesses have changed the frozen dessert to meet current consumer needs. Innovation and sustainability are the driving forces behind many food trends in 2022, including ice cream. We explore ten ways businesses are creatively marketing and changing their ice cream products to incorporate these two consumer trends. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Discoveries in science have helped manufacturers create dairy alternatives that are healthier and more sustainable.
  • Consumers are increasingly interested in ice cream’s indulgence factors, such as creative flavors and smooth textures.
  • The ice cream industry is looking for new ways of offering the treat more conveniently and mess-free.

10 Ice Cream Trends That Businesses are Exploring in 2022

Increasing scientific discoveries, COVID-19, and changing consumer diets are the primary influencers of ice cream trends in 2022. Manufacturers and dairy farmers are also contributing to modern advances in ice cream by creating dairy alternatives that are healthier and more sustainable. Below are ten of the most notable innovations in ice cream that are influencing the industry this year and contributing to the industry’s market growth. The following image shows the current increase in the ice cream market and where it will be in the next two years if businesses continue to meet consumer expectations.

Size of the global ice cream market from 2013 to 2024 (in billion U.S. dollars)

Image from Statista

1. Health and Wellness Ice Cream Treats

Businesses across the food industry are shifting towards healthier options as consumers become more aware of health-related issues because of COVID-19 and more available health information. To meet this demand, ice cream manufacturers are finding new, creative ways of offering the same popular desserts but with better ingredients. 

For example, some businesses create ice cream with functional ingredients, such as Halo Top ice cream which boasts of low calories and high protein. Meanwhile, big companies like Ben & Jerry’s are looking to create CBD ice cream to meet the growing demand for cannabis products. Here are a few examples of functional ice cream ingredients that companies today use:

  • Probiotics
  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • CBD

The positive response to these wellness treats shows that consumers want more than just low sugar and organic options. They are also interested in food that has a positive impact on their body and supports their gut health. Because of ice cream’s popularity, businesses can reach a wider audience with these healthy treats than they would with traditional health foods.

2. Plant-Based Options

Plant-based foods and ice cream are becoming more common in restaurants and grocery stores as consumers are looking for more sustainable and healthier options. In 2020, plant-based food sales were up 27%. Businesses are adapting to consumer behavior by finding ways to create ice cream without the traditional dairy ingredients. One of the most popular brands of plant-based ice cream is Coolhaus Dairy-Free ice cream. They create their dessert using pea protein, brown rice, and organic cocoa powder.

3. Lactose and Dairy-Free Options

About 75% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant. Ice cream manufacturers are finding ways of creating lactose-free dairy that appeals to this market segment without compromising the indulgent flavor and texture of the treat. Remilk is an innovative dairy farm that makes cow-free milk with all the goodness of real dairy minus ingredients like lactose. Innovators like them are paving the way to creamier lactose-free dairy options that will help businesses across the food industry appeal to more diverse markets.

4. Ice Cream Novelties

The food industry is increasing its options for in-home snacking. Ice cream novelties, like the well-known Klondike Bars, are more convenient for a small snack straight out of the box because of their single-serve packaging. These types of snacks are growing in popularity because of COVID-19 and other societal shifts. Out of the novelty ice cream section, water and fruit puree-based frozen treats are growing the fastest, with a predicted CAGR of 13% from 2021 to 2028. Businesses in 2022 are finding creative ways to offer more ice cream snacks that are both convenient and indulgent.

5. Creative Flavor Combinations

Since traditional flavors like vanilla and chocolate are mainstream among ice cream brands, businesses are using creative flavor combinations to catch the consumer’s interest. Examples like Breyers’ Cinnabon ice cream combine beloved dessert flavors with ice cream. Meanwhile, other brands like Coolhaus like to be more adventurous with their tastes, such as their Balsamic Fig & Mascarpone ice cream. However, despite all the innovations in recipes, Americans tend to still gravitate towards well-known comfort flavors like chocolate and vanilla, as the chart below shows. While this innovation might spark temporary consumer interest, businesses continue to create flavors that have a proven track record of success.

Top 14 ice cream trends in flavors among Americans

Image from YouGovAmerica

6. Mess-Free Ice Cream

Businesses have always tried to address consumer’s pain points in the ice cream industry. One of the most well-known challenges for consumers is dealing with melted ice cream. Some ways manufacturers in the past addressed these issues was by putting chocolate coatings on the outside, adding emulsifiers and stabilizers to create drip-free products, and putting them in tubs. However, modern innovations have given manufacturers more options for reducing the mess without compromising the flavor.

Here are some examples of mess-free ice cream innovations in the past five years. In 2017, a group of scientists at Japan’s Biotherapy Development Center in Kanazawa City found a way to slow down the melting process of ice cream. Then in 2018, Bompas & Parr introduced the world’s first non-melting popsicle. These two examples are just the beginning of the combination of modern science with the ice cream industry to solve everyday challenges. Businesses today can track these innovations to help them address similar consumer pain points.

7. Limited-Edition Flavors

With hundreds of available ice cream brands, businesses often struggle to stand out amongst the crowd. One solution that ice cream manufacturers and others in the food industry today use is selling products with the word “limited” on the label. Limiting access to your product creates a greater demand as consumers fear missing out on a special treat. Ice cream manufacturers will often use this marketing technique to boost sales through seasonal flavors or limited edition treats that coincide with a special event or trend.

8. Unique Experiences

Another way manufacturers stand out amongst their competition is by creating a unique experience beyond just the flavor of the ice cream. For example, Turkey Hill’s layered sundaes, glow-in-the-dark ice cream from Bompas & Parr, and color-changing flavors from IceXperience all offer similar treats in a new way. Manufacturers even improve the consumer’s experience through innovative and exotic ice cream cones. Businesses can use this same technique of offering foods in new ways to renew the consumer’s interest in their other traditional products

9. Innovative Ice Cream Packaging

Due to COVID-19, consumers often don’t have access to your food samples when you introduce new products. Therefore, ice cream innovators found unique ways to communicate their flavor and experience without consumers sampling their product. Creative food packaging designs that use imagery, colors, and text is one solution that can help you introduce a new taste or innovation in ice cream or in other products.

10. Prioritized Taste, Texture, and Indulgence

Consumer trends show that customers are looking for ice cream flavors that are indulgent, tastier, and creamier. Creative flavors and new recipes can deliver new sensations that appeal to consumers. For example, ice cream manufacturers create a variety of textures by mixing dessert or fruit pieces into the ice cream while reducing the fat content of the base to make perfectly balanced, rich, and indulgent ice cream. View the video below to see some of the other top trends in the ice cream industry and see how businesses can use taste and texture to create a unique food experience with their products.

Exhibit Your Ice Cream Innovation

Exhibit your ice cream innovation at SIAL America. Our event host industry experts from around the world while offering unique insights into the latest food innovations. You will also have the chance to network with other businesses in your industry.

Contact us to find out about exhibiting at SIAL America 2023.