Ice Cream Sales Climb on Indulgence and Healthy Inclusions

Category Featured In | Posted July 21, 2021

More than any other comfort food, ice cream creates emotion, memories, and good feelings. And as the U.S. continues to open up after a long Covid hibernation, sales show no signs of slowing. Especially premium ice creams and nostalgic flavors like Black Walnut, one of Baskin-Robbins’ original 31, and a perennial top 10 flavor in many parts of the U.S.

In fact, the average American eats more than 23 pounds of ice cream each year, according to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). And despite the Covid shut-down, consumption is strong, particularly take-home. Currently, 40 percent of ice cream makers are seeing an increased demand for premium ice cream.

This strong growth is a reflection of how people responded to stay-at-home orders. Almost everybody agrees that really good ice cream seems to raise spirits. “Among the categories they (shut-in consumers) stock with three or more items are salty snacks, ice cream, and cookies,” wrote NPD Group’s Darren Seifer in a 2020 release. While this seems to fly in the face of data that shows consumers becoming more health conscious, it actually affirms the role of ice cream as a preferred indulgence.

And an increasing number of studies confirm that a little ice cream actually does improve your mood. A few years ago, scientists at the Institute of Psychiatry in London showed that ice cream stimulates the same pleasure center in the brain as winning money or listening to your favorite music. 

Last year’s Covid-induced sales spike has created a surge in new premium flavors and varieties. Albertson’s, for instance, recently launched four new 1.5-quart Signature Select ice cream varieties. “We’re passionate about innovating based on shoppers’ needs, desires and the latest consumer trends. With these new items, we delivered something to surprise and delight every customer,” Chad Coester, senior vice president of Own Brands at Albertsons Cos., said in a statement.

According to an April 2021 report from Mintel, ice cream sales are poised to stay strong, but the focus is moving to healthier formulations. This includes rising sales of lactose free varieties and new flavors with healthy inclusions.

Black Walnuts not only are a traditional ice cream inclusion, they’re a nutritious, sustainable wild harvested tree nut indigenous to the U.S. They’re also a rich source of phytosterols, especially beta-sitosterol, which have been shown to help prevent obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease while promoting lower cholesterol, lower inflammation and anticancer activity, according to a 2019 report published in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis.

Today, Black Walnuts are receiving attention for their superfood status and sustainability, and key role in providing essential nutrients in support of optimal health through diet. Black Walnut pieces, oil, and a new high protein flour are in the vanguard of new product development. They are poised to become even more important in support of the “new normal.”

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