The Future of the Ice Cream Business

Excerpted from
Ice Cream Field & Trade Journal, June 1967
by G.O. Heck
Hawthorn-Mellody Inc.
“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 cabinets.
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 …