The overall frozen dessert category took a hit in sales over the last year. But the frozen pudding and mousse segment saw an increase in both sales and unit sales. With the health and wellness trend continuing among Americans, it’s likely that many are looking to better-for-you options to curb their sweet tooth.

Data tracked by SymphonyIRI Group, Chicago, shows that sales in the frozen desserts/toppings category fell 1.81% to $523.3 million in the 52 weeks ended July 8, 2012, with the unit sales also showing a drop, down 5.76% to 223,499,300. The category consists of the following segments:

•          frozen cheesecakes ($65.6 million sales, units down 8.2%)

•          frozen pudding/mousse ($594,074, units up 96.9%)

•          frozen sweet goods, no cheesecake ($200.1 million, units down 3.4%)

•          frozen whipped toppings ($256.9 million, units down 6.3%)

The frozen cheesecake segment is dominated by Sara Lee Cheesecake with $36.2 million in sales. Despite being the leader, its sales were down 1.5% and its unit sales dropped 8.4%. Private label is right behind Sara Lee with $16.5 million in sales. It saw a minimal uptick of sales (0.1% ) and its unit sales were up 1.1%. This second place ranking for private label is unusual for a dairy category. Private label is typically the leader in categories like milk and ice cream.

Among the top 10 in the frozen cheesecake category, only two companies showed a significant increase in both sales and unit sales. Atlanta Cheesecake (from Panarama) was the top performer with an increase in sales of 20.4% to $1.2 million and unit sales up 39.8% to 226,894. Right behind it, Edwards (from Schwan Food) cheesecake saw a 13.4% increase in sales to $1.56 million and a 7.4% increase in unit sales to 552,932. Eli’s Cheesecake also showed an increase in sales of 4.6%, but its unit sales dropped 15.8%. The average price per unit for Eli’s was up $1.65 from last year, the largest price increase among the top 10.

Seeing the biggest drop in sales was Sara Lee’s Bites down 58.6% and unit sales down 60.5%. Premium cheesecake maker The Cheesecake Factory also saw a significant drop with its sales down 21.8% and units down 25.4%. Jon Donaire (from Rich Products) cheesecake sales also took a hit, dropping 8.1% with its unit sales down 15.1%.

In contrast, in the frozen pudding and mousse segment, all but one company in the top five saw an increase in sales and units in the 52-week period. Seeing the biggest increase was Galaxy Desserts, where sales jumped 48,463% to $56,914 and unit sales increased by 29,839%. Once again, private label came in second in overall sales with $178,437; dollar sales increased 1,751.2% and unit sales were up 1,359.8%. Despite being the leader in overall sales for the category with $261,441, Jon Donaire was the only company to take a hit in sales, which were down 19.2% and unit sales dropped 21.7%. Its average price per unit of $11.29 is higher than any other in the category.