Several fun and fruity flavors of ice cream — either newly introduced or yet to be released — captured the attention of judges at the International Dairy Foods Association's (IDFA) annual Innovative Ice Cream Flavor Competition. The competition, co-sponsored by Dairy Foods magazine, was held during IDFA’s 2018 Ice Cream Technology Conference, which took place April 10-11 in Fort Myers, Fla. The annual competition showcases the creativity of U.S. ice cream makers and flavorings suppliers and captures upcoming flavor trends in the ice cream and frozen dessert industry, IDFA noted.

“Fruit was the name of the game in this year’s contest, and contestants showed off their expert ability to pair fresh tropical fruits with almost anything, including spices, vegetables and decadent deserts,” said Cary Frye, IDFA’s senior vice president of regulatory affairs. “Ice creams featuring cookie doughs and butters, as well as salty nuts, were also highly favored flavors in this year’s lineup.”

This year’s conference set records for the number of entries in the competition, as well as attendance, IDFA said. More than 160 ice cream industry professionals attended the event, tasting, judging and ultimately selecting the winners from a record of 40 flavor entries.

“We are thrilled to be involved with the conference and to have been a long-time sponsor of the Innovative Ice Cream Flavor Competition. We look forward to this every year, as it’s one of the best events in the dairy industry,” said Tom Imbordino, publisher of Dairy Foods.

Frye, Imbordino and Dairy Foods’ associate publisher, Amy Vodraska, presented the awards in three categories: Most Innovative Ice Cream Flavors, Most Innovative Prototype Flavors and Most Innovative Novelties.

“This is where the industry comes to network, discuss new trends and technologies and look for opportunities for growth,” Vodraska said. “The continued robust success of the conference and the competition shows how well both fulfill ice cream professionals’ needs.”

The following entries earned honors in the Most Innovative Ice Cream Flavor category:

  • Signature Reserve Brazilian guava cheesecake ice cream, entered by Albertsons Cos., took first place in the category. It is a sweet-and-sour super-premium cheesecake ice cream balanced with ribbons of tart guava puree and containing bites of cheesecake crust pieces.
  • Blackberry hibiscus by Baskin-Robbins earned second place honors. It’s a blackberry ice cream swirled with a blackberry-hibiscus ice and held together with a blackberry ribbon.
  • Cookie butter ice cream, submitted by Wells Enterprises Inc., earned third place. It features the flavor of a spiced shortbread cookie known as speculoos, and includes cinnamon-graham and speculoos-caramel swirls and speculoos cookie dough chunks.

The following entries took awards in the Most Innovative Prototype Flavors category:

  • Spicy mango raspberry fiesta ice cream took first place as the most innovative prototype flavor. It is a mango and red-pepper ice cream with a sweet swirl of raspberry. The flavor was submitted by SensoryEffects Flavor Systems, a Balchem company, which manufactures and supplies custom flavor-delivery systems.
  • Billionaire bar, a rich peanut butter ice cream with a salted-caramel swirl, brownies and buttery short bread, earned second place. It was submitted by MD Enterprises Inc., a flavoring development and marketing company serving the dairy, baking and beverage industries.
  • Nuts over kettle corn ice cream, an ice cream prototype with a kettle corn base, buttery salted-caramel variegate and praline pecan pieces, took third place. It was submitted by Concord Foods LLC, a supplier of retail food products and custom ingredients to supermarkets, foodservice operators and food manufacturers.

The following entries earned honors in the Most Innovative Novelties category:

  • Pomegranate and sweet potato medley bar, submitted by Perry's Ice Cream Company Inc., earned first place. It’s a frozen dessert bar made with real fruit and vegetable juice.
  • Salted caramel pecan “Load’d” sundaes by Wells Enterprises Inc. took second place. The sundaes feature vanilla-flavored ice cream with salted-caramel and fudge swirls, pecans and chocolatey sea-salt caramel bunnies in a grab-and-go cup.
  • A chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream sandwich submitted by Kemps LLC took third place. It is a vanilla-flavored ice cream with chocolate chip cookie dough pieces sandwiched between two chocolate wafers.

The Ice Cream Technology Conference is the only meeting that focuses specifically on ice cream and frozen dessert research, technology, new market trends, food safety, labeling and marketing opportunities. The 2019 conference will be held April 16-17 at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club in St. Petersburg, Fla.

IDFA said it would like to thank the following sponsors of the 2018 Ice Cream Technology Conference for their generous support: Denali Ingredients LLC, Harry Davis & Co., Pecan Deluxe Candy Co. and Tree Top Inc.