Indulgence Over Health, Ice Cream Sales Show

When it comes to our ice cream, it appears that we like to indulge a little.

According to a report by Nielsen, sales of frozen custard have increased as healthier options, such as frozen yogurt, have fallen quite a bit.

Although many consumers are concerned with health and wellness in other areas, with ice cream, we seem to prefer a decadent, fat- and sugar-filled treat more than a healthy middle ground.

"When people look at the indulgence, they may not want to compromise," Jordan Rost, vice president of consumer insights at Nielsen, explained to the Dairy Reporter. "Ice cream formats marketing a health claim are shrinking."

Sales of frozen custard have grown over 130 percent, obtaining close to an $18 million share of the U.S. market. Frozen yogurt, on the other hand, has experienced the largest drop with a 10.7 percent decrease to $23.9 million in sales over the past year.

Non-dairy ice cream has seen a substantial increase to over $75 million, a 43.7 percent increase. That being said, it’s merely a drop in the bucket in the multi-billion-dollar U.S. ice cream industry.

"It’s still only around one percent of the overall category," Rost said of non-dairy ice cream products. "There’s a long way to go for non-dairy replacing the traditional ice cream experience."

In addition to indulging, the report discovered that many consumers are also leaning towards novelty ice cream products, such as ice cream sandwiches. From food trucks to fine-dining establishments, Americans are buying more ice cream sandwiches than ever.

"If you delve a little bit deeper, you’re also seeing indulgence in novelty ice cream, which is growing at 6 percent year-over-year," Rost explained. "With 14 percent year-over-year sales growth, this summer might be the summer of ice-cream sandwiches."

Furthermore, many of us would rather enjoy a local specialty over a widely-known brand. About 36 percent of U.S. customers prefer a local brand, whereas 31 percent would rather purchase products that are sold on a global level. A trip to our favorite neighborhood ice cream shop is always more exciting than a trip to the supermarket, after all.

"Retailers looking to capitalize on consumers’ sweet tooth would be wise to stock their freezers with local ice cream products to satisfy their cravings," Nielsen explained.