There’s some cool stuff going on with the world’s ice cream market, but there are places where it is really heating up as well. Many sectors within the ice cream industry are seeing changes of consumption patterns. This is encouraging, since sales of ice cream have remained relatively flat over the last several years.
Overall sales for the ice cream industry in the United States has remained around $10 billion annually since 2010. In 2013, sales were $13.7 billion.
Ice Cream Consumption
As the ice cream market begins to segment itself, the sales numbers are expected to increase. The industry has identified three key segments to focus upon: premium ice cream, super premium ice cream, and frozen snacks. What does this mean? That all of our screams for some ice cream might just become a little bit louder in the near future.
- Baskin Robbins saw sales drop to $496 million from $570 million from 2009 to 2011.
- Stone Cold Creamery went from revenue declines in 2011 to a sale of their controlling interest in 2013.
- Nestlé’s various brands of ice cream account for $1.8 billion of the total market.
- A bulk of ice cream sales come from store-bought varieties, indicating that consumers are very conscious about the price of this sweet treat.
- 40% of Americans will eat ice cream at least once during a two-week period, which is just below coffee consumption [47%].
- Ice cream consumption over the last 25 years has dropped from 41.3 times per year in the US to 28.5 times per year.
- At the end of last year, there were an estimated 2,582 frozen yogurt stores, which is double the number that existed in 2008.
Although ice cream sales are up slightly in 2013, the growth of the frozen yogurt industry has seen a remarkable comeback. Ice cream sales have been relatively flat, but frozen yogurt has seen a growth rate of 21% per year when compared to ice cream. What is causing this change? The perception of health in the United States. When 40% of kids that are born today are expected to develop diabetes at some point in their life because of their eating habits, families are becoming more health conscious about the food choices they bring into their home. There is one important point to note here, however, and that is the fact that restaurant sales of ice cream are excluded from these figures and not tracked.
Who Is Eating Ice Cream Today?
- The United States leads the world in ice cream consumption, average 26 liters of ice cream per person consumed per year.
- New Zealand comes in second, at 23 liters per ice cream per person. Australia rounds out the top 3 at 18 liters per person.
- Denmark, which is ranked fourth in the world, eats half the amount of ice cream that Australia does and 3x less than Americans do.
- Residents of Portland, Oregon eat more ice cream per person than any other city in the United States. The top city for ice cream sales, however, is Long Beach, CA.
- Vending machines that sell ice cream contribute $886 million to the industry, even though they have very little, if any, dairy products included with them.
- The United States exports 60,000 metric tons of ice cream every year to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
- 90% of U.S. households regularly indulge in a sweet, frozen treat.
Ice cream is definitely an American product, but it is also a growing industry in the rest of the world. About 1.5 billion gallons of ice cream or similar desserts are produced in the United States every year, so Americans are the world leader in the production of this sweet treat. It isn’t surprising to see that the Midwest, home to much of the farmland in the US, is also the home of about 50% of the nation’s total ice cream production. Even more surprising, however, is that even with 60,000 metric tons of ice cream being exported out of the US, almost two-thirds of the ice cream that is sold every year is only marketed regionally.
What Ice Cream Is Being Eaten Today?
- According to a recent survey of International Ice Cream Association member companies, vanilla remains the most popular flavor among their consumers at 28%. Mint chocolate chip and cookies and cream are the next two most popular flavors.
- Chocolate ice cream accounts for 14% of total US sales.
- The ice cream companies that market products around the world identify Asia, the Caribbean, Mexico and Latin America as importers.
- 79.3% of ice cream consumers cited premium ice cream as their most favorite product.
- Only 1 in 10 people who regularly eat ice cream say that novelty products are their favorite items to purchase.
- Only 16% of the ice cream that is sold in the United States is marketed nationally.
- The majority of U.S. ice cream and frozen dessert manufacturers have been in business for more than 50 years and many are still family-owned businesses.
- 10% of what people consume as “ice cream” is actually sorbet, water ice, or frozen yogurt.
There is a love affair with ice cream and there likely always will be. It isn’t something that is for a warm day. It can also be a treat in the depths of winter when you’ve got a favorite movie on and the fireplace roaring. As the super premium brands expand and over more flavors and product varieties, the sales and consumption of ice cream are poised to increase dramatically. Yet even with all of this data that says variety matters, people still have a preference for vanilla more than anything else. This proves one thing: when you’ve got a great product that people love, then you’re always going to have a market segment for it.