The Future of the Ice Cream Business
Excerpted from Ice Cream
Field & Trade Journal, June 1967
by G.O. Heck
“Is the future of the ice cream business behind us?” I
say this because of the recent trends as demonstrated by the 15th Annual Survey put
out by Ice Cream Field in March 1967.
It was clearly shown by these figures that for the
first time in the history of the frozen dessert business, we as an industry
failed to sell more products than we had in the previous year. Actually,
gallonage was down by almost 1 percent. Sales of ice milk, sherbets, water
ices and novelties continued to increase, but the very foundation of our
business, ice cream, started to slip.
We should ask ourselves, “Why are sales
down?” The American population continues to grow at a rapid rate,
despite the “pill.” Personal income was never higher. The
diet-consciousness of the American public was not much greater than in the
previous year. Ice cream pricing, despite a small increase in mid-year, was
actually lower than it way 10 years ago.
So why then should ice cream, the first, the original
of the frozen convenience foods, not show a substantial increase? Where are
we losing out? Well, here is a partial list of our major competitors: The
Sara Lees, Town Square and Mortons, Fresca, Diet Pepsi, Jello Puddings and
Toppings, Banquet Pies.
The declining volume of ice cream is not caused by
major manufacturers stealing volume from small operators, nor is it giant
supermarkets who are manufacturing their own product. It is these
competitors and many other companies who have used enough imagination and
marketing know-how to steal away a share of the dessert and treat volume. I
read recently that five times more products of this type compete now for
the consumer dollar than did 10 years ago.
So it isn’t that people have not been eating
desserts. The fact is that the ice cream industry has not been awake or
alert enough to capture its fair share.
I think if we want to continue to grow in proportion
with other frozen desserts, we and our suppliers must make some dramatic
advances along the following lines:
Freezing techniques — Gigantic hardening
tunnels may some day be a thing of the past ... Much of the product will
pass directly from the processing room through [a] cryogenic freezer
… Another innovation which may well be marketed is a semi-solid ice
cream, a product that … can be maintained in regular refrigerated
Low-calorie ice creams — Over 3 percent
of total sales of ice cream were in dietary products in 1966 … It is
estimated that 60-plus percent of mature Americans are either dieting or
planning to diet … we have failed to develop a product that has
virtually no calories but still eats good like ice cream should.
Packaging — Just
picture a clear plastic egg-type container with a dozen different dips of
ice cream … Shrink film for covering long lengths of extruded ice
cream …an insulated picnic pack that would hold ice cream from 12 to
24 hours …
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