WORLD – Pleasure is still the driving force behind ice cream purchases, with consumers naming its taste, the fact that it’s a treat and makes people feel happy as the top three reasons for buying it, a new report from Innova Market Insights highlights.

In the contemporary consumer environment, however, the study finds that the balance between health and indulgence is increasingly important – resulting to the ice cream category’s growing focus on delivering pleasure without the guilt.

As far as the key macronutrients are concerned, for example, the focus within ice cream development is clearly shifting from fat to sugar.

Data from the research company shows that through 2015-2019, global launches of low sugar ice creams increased at a CAGR of 48%. In contrast, launches of low/no/reduced fat ice creams dropped at a CAGR of 12% over the same period.

The non-dairy movement is also impacting on ice cream innovation as significantly growing numbers of consumers explore plant-based eating.

“Non-dairy ice creams tripled their share of total ice cream launches in North America between 2015 and 2019, reaching a significant figure of 18% penetration,” reports Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights.

“Meanwhile, Australasia and West Europe are other important stamping grounds with 15% and 9% non-dairy penetration, respectively.”

Even within these healthier ice cream categories, however, indulgence is never far away and the idea of ‘permissible indulgence’ is leading to the combination of healthier formulations with decadent tastes, the report highlights.

For example, salted caramel is an indulgent flavor that has exploded into the mainstream in recent years. It was ranked as the fifth most popular taste within launch activity in 2019, up 10 places since 2015.

However, it is even more popular in helping to deliver an indulgent image to guilt-free products, taking fourth place in non-dairy ice cream launches, third place in low fat ice cream and second place in low sugar NPD.

Having announced its Top Ten Trends for 2020 towards the end of last year, Innova Market Insights is now turning its attention to how these trends are impacting on the highly innovative sweets and snacks categories.

While, stress and anxiety are key concerns in modern life as consumers manage careers, families and social lives while striving to maintain healthy lifestyles, both physically and mentally, responses to these vary.

Innova research finds that the majority of consumers aim to balance the benefits and costs of busy lifestyles and this has in turn raised the demand for nutritious foods that are easy to prepare, convenient and portable as indulgent treats play a role in relaxation and enjoyment.