While the retail ice cream category has seen sales flatten and even tumble slightly in recent years, its novelties cousin has fared much better. For the 52 weeks ending Dec. 29, 2019, data from Chicago-based market research firm IRI show dollar sales in the novelties category rose 5.3% to $5,505.6 million. Unit sales increased 2.0% during the same timeframe.


Frozen novelty sales skyrocket

Accounting for the bulk of novelty sales, the frozen novelties subcategory saw dollar sales take off 5.6%, reaching $5,058.1 million. Unit sales climbed 2.3%.

Nestlé (Nestlé USA*) was the biggest gainer among the top 10 frozen novelties brands. Dollar sales rose 38.0%, while unit sales posted a 12.3% gain.

Two other top 10 brands, Häagen-Dazs (Nestlé USA) and Blue Bunny (Wells Enterprises) also experienced more-than-respectable growth. The former saw 9.9% and 5.0% dollar and unit increases, respectively, while the latter posted 9.7% and 9.1% dollar and unit sales gains.

Only two top 10 brands experienced dollar and unit sales declines. Dollar sales for Klondike (Unilever USA) fell 4.0%, while unit sales plummeted 8.7%. And dollar and unit sales under the Popsicle brand (Unilever USA) declined 3.0% and 5.0%, respectively.


Mixed results for ice cream/ice milk desserts

The picture wasn’t as pretty for the much smaller ice cream/ice milk desserts subcategory.

Dollar sales within the subcategory rose 1.1% to $264.8 million. Unit sales fell by 0.5%, however.

Abilyn’s Frozen Bakery (from the company with the same name) saw the largest gains, albeit on a small base. Dollar sales jumped 783.6%, and unit sales increased 805.1%.

Private label was also a bright spot. These brands collectively saw a 68.8% rise in dollar sales and an 81.7% gain in unit sales.

But five of the other top 10 brands actually experienced declines.

Jon Donaire (Rich Products Corp.) suffered the most. The brand’s dollar sales were down 29.3%, while its unit sales were down 30.3%.

Breyers (Unilever USA) also posted steep declines. Dollar and unit sales fell 16.9% and 25.9%, respectively.


Ups and downs for ice pops, too

Data for the ice pop novelties subcategory show a situation similar to that of the ice cream/ice milk desserts subcategory. Dollar sales jumped 3.2%, but unit sales tumbled 2.2%.

Both private label brands and Fun Pops (Alamance Foods) had a strong showing. Dollar sales for the Fun Pops brand rose 13.9%, and unit sales shot up 7.4%. And dollar and unit sales for private label brands improved 8.4% and 4.4%, respectively.

But again, five of the top 10 brands posted declines.

Faring the worst here were Icee Slush (the Icee Co.) and certain Jel Sert brands (The Jel Sert Co.). The former brand saw dollar and unit sales decreases of 24.5% and 24.4%, respectively. The latter experienced a 23.3% drop in dollar sales and a 22.5% decline in unit sales.