Consumers’ perpetual appetite for frozen treats continues to drive sales for the category, despite equally persistent supply chain challenges.
In particular, the frozen novelties segment has been a powerhouse over the past few years, with April to date the dollar up more than 40.5% from the pre-pandemic period, per IRI.
Anne-Marie Roerink, director and founder of 210 Analytics, attributes this traction to several factors.
“Frozen food overall has had a very strong pandemic performance and with more people walking down the aisle, more eyes are also on frozen novelties,” Roerink said. food institute. “Millennials [also] I love frozen food and innovation and novelty is a great place.
The better performance of other frozen desserts can also be attributed to the increase in take-out and restaurant deliveries. “Instead of ordering the main course and the dessert at the restaurant, they can buy the meal, but buy the dessert at the store,” Roerink said.
Supply chain impacts
Despite consumer demand, supply chain issues have impacted overall inventory levels in recent months, putting pressure on the category.
According to IRI, frozen dessert unit sales were down 3.3% year-over-year for the 52-week period ending May 22. Ice cream/sorbet was the most affected category (-5%), followed by frozen novelties (-1.7%). and frozen desserts/toppings (-1.6%).
“Novelty is a bit like candy, where people love innovation but also have their tried and true favorites,” Roerink said. “Overall, if unit sales are down, they are down less than assortment and inventory, which tells me demand is still very strong.”
Trends to Watch
Consumers are turning to frozen for a variety of indulgent, nostalgic, and better-for-you treats, and overall the department has kept pace.
Evolution of health claims
The Innova Market Insights Trends Survey for 2021 found that the claim “gluten-free” was used on 30% of new ice cream and frozen dessert packaging launched in 2021, while “non-GMO” appeared on 22%.
Additionally, the herbal claim was the fastest growing claim, with an average compound annual growth rate of 67% between 2018 and 2021, according to reports. IFT.
Amid recent grocery store price inflation, frozen desserts are gaining popularity from private label. As of May 22, unit sales of store-brand frozen novelties were up 6.6% year-over-year, per IRI.
Several retailers have reported success with their store-brand ice cream, including Albertsons, which recently introduced more varieties of plant-based and fun ice cream under its Open Nature label, reported. Supermarket News.
Consumers are also looking for frozen treats as small indulgent rewards throughout the day and into the evening.
This trend is driving more crossovers, partnerships with influencers, and portion-tailored packages, such as individually wrapped pints and multipacks.
It also inspires new creations like Tru Fru’s Chocolate Covered Frozen Berries, which received an Innovative New Product award at the 2022 Sweets & Snacks Expo.