Marina Mayer Executive Editor
The idea of biting down into a frozen dessert on a humid summer day is both refreshing and chilling. Just the mere thought of ice cream melting in your mouth or the imagery of racing to finish it before any chocolate melts is what summertime is all about.
But, now that school is back in session and the long days turn into dark nights, it’s safe to say that most frozen desserts also hibernate for the winter.
However, according to Chicago-based SymphonyIRI Group, sales of frozen desserts tend to paint a somewhat conflicting picture.
Sales of frozen sweet goods (excluding cheesecake) fell 3.8% to $199.8 million in the 52 weeks ended July 10, 2011. Private-label brands snagged the top spot with $35.1 million in sales, which was an 11.8% drop from the previous period. No. 6 Mrs. Smith’s, produced by Schwan’s Consumer Brands, Bloomington, Minn., also saw a drop in sales (11.5%). And sales for No. 9 Duncan Hines Homestyle, produced by Pinnacle Foods Group, LLC, Mountain Lakes, N.J., tumbled 41.2%.
Not all frozen sweet goods watched sales melt, however. Delizza, owned by Delizza Inc., Battleboro, N.C., retained its No. 5 slot with a 27.4% uptick in sales, while Weight Watcher’s Smart Ones, a division of Pittsburgh-based H.J. Heinz Co., snagged No. 7 with a 17.6% increase in sales.
Cheesecake segment produces roller-coaster results
The frozen cheesecake segment also produced some roller-coaster results. Sales increased 25.5% for No. 7 Atlanta Cheesecake, Kennesaw, Ga. Sales of private-label brands, which rank second, rose 19.2% and No. 4 Cheesecake Factory, Calabasas Hills, Calif., watched sales increase 13.6%.
No. 1 Sara Lee, from Sara Lee Corp., Downers Grove, Ill., retained its No. 1 spot from last year. Its sales dropped a scant 0.1%. Its sister brand, Sara Lee Bites, fared way worse, plummeting 60%.
Cheesecake sales also crumbled for others. Chicago-based Eli’s Cheesecake brand, Eli’s, which claimed No. 8, experienced a sales decline of 37.2%; followed by Yoder’s (14.2%); The Father’s Table, by the company of the same name in Sanford, Fla., (13.6%); and Buffalo, N.Y.-based Rich’s Products’ Jon Donaire brand (10.3%).
Whip brands fail to whip into shape
Unlike other frozen dessert segments, several frozen whip brands cooled off even before the seasons began to change. No. 8 Rich’s Real Whip took the biggest hit, seeing sales dive 27.4%.
Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft Foods’ Cool Whip snagged four spots on the chart, coming in first with a 2.2% drop in sales, while Cool Whip Free, Cool Whip Lite and Cool Whip Sugar-free retained their third, fourth and fifth positions with a 3.7%, 12.8% and 17.4% drop in sales, respectively.
Even private label (No. 2) experienced a 2.5% decline in sales.
On the flip side, Rich’s saw an uptick in sales, reclaiming its No. 9 slot with an 84.4% jump in sales. Similarly, Kineret (No. 10) produced a 28.7% rise in sales, trailed by Truwhip, produced by Peak Foods, Colorado Springs, Colo., with a 22.7% increase in sales.
The idea of a frozen dessert may be exhilarating, but sometimes even that isn’t enough to keep certain frozen dessert segments out of an early hibernation.