Global Ice Cream Introductions Accelerate

Looking around the world at dairy product introductions, the hottest segment seems to be the one with the coldest products. Ice cream introductions in 2006 are setting a record pace, and could reach a total of 2,800 to 2,900 by year's end, and that's on top of 2,379 in 2005 and 2,301 in 2004.

These figures, provided by Mintel's Global New Products Database (GNPD), include both frozen novelties/impulse products and take-home ice cream. In each of the five major regions identified by the GNPD, ice cream and novelty product introductions are on a record pace in 2006. Although Latin America and Asia Pacific are experiencing the most notable increases, even mature markets like North America and Europe are seeing numerous roll-outs in the ice cream freezers.

Speaking of Europe, when looking at which regions have had the most introductions in the first eight months of 2006, Europe leads in three segments: yogurt and cheese, (the two most active) and butter and yellow fats. Asia Pacific has had the most milk introductions (the third busiest segment, in terms of roll-outs) and the Asia Pacific region also leads the frozen novelty, and ice cream categories.

Europe remains by far the top region for both yogurt and cheese introductions. Amazingly, for the period from 2003 through August of this year, just more than 26,000 products were rolled out worldwide, and 11,450 of them were European yogurts or cheeses.

If we look at the different dairy segments, yogurt, (including probiotic drinks) remains the top category worldwide for new product innovation, with cheese a close second. There were actually more new cheeses than new yogurts introduced in 2005, but yogurt was back on top for the January to August period of this year. Yogurt introductions are up in most markets, although North America seems to be pretty flat. Asia is the second-most active market for new yogurt products.

Cheese rollouts are also on the upswing in most regions, and North America will probably continue to hold second place in cheese introductions. The pace for new cheeses has picked up in both Latin America and the Middle East/Africa.

For milk, Asia continues on a hot streak. Intro totals for 2006 could reach more than 700 compared to 469 last year and 522 in 2004. Total milk introductions worldwide should top 1,600 or 1,700 this year, which would be a recent high-water mark.

Looking at the big picture and the long term, total introductions worldwide are growing at a swift pace. The number is likely to reach 8,500 to 8,800 this year compared to about 7,800 in 2005 and about 5,250 in 2003.

As the global economy grows, dairy is keeping pace.