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    PG Web Extra: What’s New for Ice Cream

    Trends grocers should follow to maximize summer sales

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ

    Grocers should be planning to take advantage of not only the increased demand for frozen treats that comes with warm summer weather, but the promotional opportunities brought by National Ice Cream Month in July.

    What will shoppers be looking for in the ice cream aisle? According to one manufacturer, small-batch products and designer flavors, as well as ways to assuage their guilt over indulging.

    “Craft brands are becoming a major trend among today’s consumers. Although they tend to be higher in price and quality, they are made with a greater degree of detail and care for the manufacturing process,” says George Denman, VP of sales and marketing for Cincinnati-based boutique ice cream maker Graeter’s. “Consumers have come to appreciate craft and small-batch beer, as it innovates with new and unfamiliar flavors not typically produced on a large scale. Unconventional flavors of craft beer continue to excite consumers today, and the craft trend has spread to other industries, including ice cream.”

    Graeter’s considers itself a “craft” manufacturer because it makes ice cream in small batches – 2½ gallons at a time – and sources very high-quality ingredients that we use, Denman says.

    “Additionally, alcohol-infused products have made a name for themselves, seen in such products as coffee creamer and Graeter’s new Bourbon Pecan Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, which has been very well received,” Denman says, explaining that the innovative flavor  “provides an authentic taste of Kentucky that separates it from all other competitors.”

    Meanwhile, while enjoying their ice cream, consumers are demanding healthier alternatives. In response, Graeter’s developed a line of low-glycemic ice creams.

    “Where competitors have attempted and failed to replicate the thick, smooth taste that full-fat ice cream provides while lowering the amount of sugar, Graeter’s has succeeded,” Denman declares. “Some companies have tried to entice the consumer with fat-free, low-glycemic, nut-free, gluten-free and lactose-free claims, but fail to deliver on both flavor and texture. Rather than providing a rich eating experience, they tend to be more icy than creamy.”

    Graeter’s low-glycemic ice cream, he continues, “boasts indulgent flavor without the blood sugar spike, which has been produced through our innovative use of the monk fruit and its sweetening properties. Our flavor options continue to expand, reinventing the way consumers view our low glycemic ice cream, which is just a little less indulgent.”

    A lot o’ gelato

    In addition, the gelato subcategory is growing as American palates experiment with European influences. “What was once exotic is now mainstream,” Denman says. “In this way, many consumers have opened their minds to bolder flavor profiles.”

    Answering that call is New York-based Divino USA Inc., with its distinctive line of Italian handcrafted gelato-filled fruit. With national distribution through KeHe, Haddon House, Nature’s Best and UNFI, Divino is made from Southern Italian fruit hand-picked near the factory on the Amalfi Coast. The fresh fruit pulp is blended with volcanic waters from neighboring Mount Vesuvius, sweetened with natural sugar and lemon juice, and filled into the halved fruit shell and frozen as single servings.

    With Amalfi Lemon, Roman Kiwi, Ciaculli Tangerine, Apulian Peach and Black Diamond Plum varieties, each 100-calories serving is gluten-free certified, fat free and Non-GMO Project Verified.

    “Our goal at Divino is to bring the most authentic Italian experience to the U.S. market in a completely unique delivery: exotic fresh fruit-based gelato served in its own fruit shell,” says Guido Molinari, co-founder of Divino USA Inc. “Divino has enjoyed a long tradition in Italy and across Europe, where people consider gelato a ‘necessary indulgence’ to celebrate life. We have received an overwhelming response in the U.S. to date, and look forward to continuing to introduce the brand across the country.”

    Product rollout is continuing through August. Robert Tepper of Sunrise Management, the sales broker manager for Divino USA, tells PG: “Recognition and approval and a rapid start have surpassed our expectations.”

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ
    • About Jim Dudlicek As editorial director of Progressive Grocer, Jim Dudlicek oversees daily operations of the magazine, spearheads its signature features, produces PG’s monthly Trend Alert newsletter on center store issues, moderates its regular webcast series, and writes and comments about a wide range of grocery issues. A food industry journalist since 2002, Jim came to PG in June 2010 after covering the dairy industry for 7½ years, during which time he served as chief editor of Dairy Field and Dairy Foods magazines. A graduate of Marquette University, Jim is fascinated by how truly progressive grocers inspire consumers to enjoy food, transforming the industry from mere merchants into educators that can take the most basic of all necessities and turn it into something profound and life-enhancing. Follow him at www.twitter.com/JimDudlicek

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