Consumers love their cheese and are clear about what they want. It has to be easy to eat, portable, available in a variety of flavors and all-natural. These are the dominant themes from almost every cheese processor we spoke with. Convenience, flavor innovation, authenticity and freshness are key factors that will drive consumer cheese purchases, according to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Madison.
While yogurt is certainly still having its day, other cultured dairy products are seeing renewed interest. Consumers’ desires for variety in flavor and texture, clean ingredients and nutrient-dense snacks (like more protein or probiotics) are shining a spotlight on yogurt, cottage cheese, cream cheese and sour cream-based dips.
When it comes to artisan ice cream making, flavors, transparency and authenticity are what matter, according to Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream. The company makes dairy-based and vegan ice creams for its scoop shops, food trucks and retail customers. The company claims it makes the “absolute best vegan ice cream,” and it has a customer following and a taste that backs up that claim, (this editor can attest).
Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream wants to make people happy with ice cream. The company set out to revive the classic American ice cream truck and the art of traditional ice cream making using only the highest-quality ingredients and no stabilizers. For the company, it’s about being authentic and making ice cream that is truly pure.
Ice cream products that focus on nutritional benefits and pure ingredients are making a mark in the frozen dessert market, while portion-control offerings give consumers options to indulge without too much guilt.
The shelves are crowded in the frozen and refrigerated dessert cases at the grocery store. Not only do manufacturers of pies, cheesecakes and puddings have to deal with competition from each other, but ice cream, frozen yogurt, frozen novelties and even dessert-style yogurts are all competition.
Ice cream sales may be climbing (see our August issue), but sales for most frozen dessert segments took a beating. Unit sales of frozen cheesecakes, pudding/mousse and whip toppings all decreased. Meanwhile, frozen sweet goods sales ticked up.