Many consumers have been turning to their favorite comfort foods to help combat stress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. And one of those favorites certainly appears to be ice cream.

According to data from Chicago-based market research firm IRI, dollar sales within the retail ice cream/sherbet category shot up 15.5% to $7,789.2 million during the 52 weeks ending Nov. 1, 2020. Unit sales climbed 10.3% to 1,943.9 million.


Double-digit gains for ice cream

The ice cream subcategory slightly outperformed the total ice cream/sherbet category during that timeframe. Dollar sales jumped 15.7% to $6,972.9, while unit sales rose 10.4% to 1,731.3.

Among the top 10 brands, Tillamook was the standout. The brand’s dollar sales increased 43.0%; its unit sales improved 37.8%.

Ben & Jerry’s came in second in terms of performance. The brand’s dollar and unit sales were up 26.8% and 22.2%, respectively.

None of the top 10 brands posted a decrease in dollar sales, although Blue Bunny did record a slight falloff (0.3%) in unit sales. It’s also worth noting that better-for-you brand Halo Top — a top 10 brand in our last ice cream-related Market Trends report, in our August 2020 issue — failed to make the top 10 during this time period.


Oatly’s sales soar

Meanwhile, frozen yogurt/tofu — the second-largest but much smaller subcategory — also realized strong growth. Dollar sales climbed 9.6% to $337.5 million. Unit sales rose 4.9% to 76.3 million.

Here, a nondairy brand, Oatly, recorded the most impressive growth among the top 10 brands, albeit on a smallish base. Its dollar sales skyrocketed 1,602.8%, and its unit sales shot up 1,714.2%.

The smaller ice milk/frozen dessert and sherbet/sorbet/ices subcategories performed well, too. The former saw impressive 27.0% and 19.0% increases in dollar and unit sales, respectively. The latter realized more modest but still significant gains — 8.1% and 4.5% in dollar and unit sales, respectively.