Mintel reports that while the ice cream category is reporting small year- over-year growth, the novelties, frozen yogurt, and non-dairy segments are seeing solid gains. This trend can be attributed in part to younger consumers who are interested in plant-based proteins and non-dairy milks. “Frozen yogurt/non-dairy is stealing share from traditional ice cream and is expected to reach $455 million by 2023,” reports Mintel.

Price is of little concern for consumers looking to indulge. Mintel reports that nearly a third of consumers purchase their favorite ice cream regardless of cost. How can brands sway consumers? Flavor is the most important ice cream attribute for consumers walking the frozen dessert aisle. While traditional flavors, including Chocolate and Vanilla are on the decline, flavors like Cookies & Cream, Strawberry, Coffee, Fudge, and Peanut Butter are seeing a rise in popularity.

What does the future hold for ice cream? Functional ingredients will play an important role in expanding the ice cream category over the next few years. Mintel noted that over 4% of products in the frozen dessert category launched in 2018 met the functional ingredients criteria. Ice cream with a hemp-derived CBD, for example, can help alleviate pain, anxiety, and depression while giving consumers the sweet treat they’re craving after dinner.

Other trends include a bigger focus on non-dairy, including oat milk. Fans of oat milk are raving about its creamy taste and texture, and the added health and environmental benefits to boot. Other “better-for-you” claims that are resonating with consumers include Kosher, Hormone Free, Gluten Free, GMO Free, and Premium.