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The Future of Ice Cream and Gelato: A Winter Wonderland

8 October 2019 by Food&HotelAsia


Ice creams and gelatos have been enjoyed by generations. However, with every new one, a new set of taste buds and demands arise, awaiting to be fulfilled. In this article, we explore new ice cream and gelato trends and speak to the people behind the famous ice cream sandwiches, Ice Cream Cookie Co., and get some insights about how the Singapore-based company stays ahead of the game amidst changing consumer palates and competition from bigger brands.

 

On breaking into the market:

“It started with a craving! We started making our homemade ice cream sandwiches at gatherings for family and friends before setting up shop at local farmers’ markets around town. People loved them, and when we were approached to make desserts for a restaurant called The Cajun Kings, a business was born,” said Natasha Chiam, founder and maker of Ice Cream Cookie Co. in an interview.

The Ice Cream Sandwich

 

The changing consumer palate

Gone are the days where the mix of different flavours of ice cream was considered a “new flavour” (yes, I’m looking at you, Neopolitan). According to China Daily, Haagen Dazs says that “The speed with which we launch new ice cream products is increasingly like a fast fashion brand. We will upgrade and renew the portfolio to cater to the sophisticated appetite of millennial consumers”.  The modern consumer is not only seeking out innovative mixes like alcohol-infused ice creams or elaborate gelatos for the ‘gram, but also “healthy” alternatives. With all the buzz surrounding plant-based swaps and a growing emphasis on health and nutrition, these trends have naturally made their way into the ice cream industry too, resulting in new variants like vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free ice creams. Ice Cream Cookie Co. shares with us how the trend does not just stop at “healthy” ice creams, but also is driving towards ice creams that are based upon diets as well. “The main difference would be that people are increasingly conscious of what they choose to eat. For many, it’s no longer good enough to eat food traditionally perceived to be healthy (like vegetables or fruit). For instance, a lot of foods in the ketogenic diet are not traditionally considered ‘healthy’ but many followers advocate the benefits of this diet. In addition to health, people are now driven by sustainability and environmental concerns. For example, many people become vegan not just for the reported health benefits, but also because they believe in compassion towards animals and the environment,” Natasha explains.

 

Being environmentally responsible  

“These are just a few examples of how people are changing their eating behaviour for good – they are not fad diets but permanent shifts in mind set that will also guide buying choices. Due to this, our vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free range has become very popular. We also revamped our ice cream sandwich packaging in June 2019 to use 80 per cent less plastic, and all of our packaging is now fully recyclable. We’ve never used plastic bags in the history of our company. Instead, even though it is much more expensive and not totally necessary (as we deliver in temperature-controlled freezer trucks), we give away reusable cooler tote bags with every order. We encourage our customers to reuse them when they do their groceries instead of taking more plastic bags. People appreciate the small steps we take toward social responsibility and minimising waste.

That said, taste is still very important. While developing recipes for our vegan range, one of our key criteria was that it had to taste just as good as traditional ice cream. We have a former NASA engineer behind our recipe development and many customers can’t believe that our products are vegan – even a lot of non-vegan people love the vegan flavours,” Natasha continues.

 

Staying ahead of the competition

While big companies may be launching new flavours every few months. Ice Cream Cookie Co. takes a different stance when creating their products. “We think about our customers. For us, this doesn’t mean following published food trends, or doing lots of focus groups, big data or market research. We make products that we personally get excited about – things we can’t wait to serve our loved ones. We always talk to our family, friends and staff about our new flavours and we listen carefully to feedback. It’s this authenticity that really resonates with our customers. We are very connected to our customers, and as a small local company, we are able to launch things quickly. That’s why we were one of the first ice cream manufacturers to launch vegan products in the Singapore market – we noticed a lot of our friends were becoming vegan or vegetarian and wanted to create desserts that they could enjoy.“

Dairy free and Vegan Ice cream with local flavours

In fact, their vegan line launched at the start of 2017, even before Ben & Jerry’s who launched their vegan series about a year later at the end of 2017, and Magnum who just recently launched their version in July 2019.

The future of ice cream and gelatos?

“We think there will be more niche products that cater to selective diets (like veganism or keto) and more low-cal options. ‘Traditional’ ice cream, however, is never going to fade away – there’s something very nostalgic and tempting about digging into a classic chocolate or vanilla.”

 

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