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Ice cream market in UK gets 'Kick' while USA packers start mixing it up.

And Germany's enterprising Scholler organization is also on the move, exporting novelties to Britain and investing in plant capacity in Hungary.

While the final numbers are not yet in, there seems little doubt that the blistering-hot summer heat that baked Europe from the Atlantic to the Baltic sea succeed in pushing ice cream consumption to all-time highs on the Continent this year. And in the USA, where supermarket segment ice cream sales rose only 1% during 1991 to $2.6 billion, a blizzard of new product introductions is expected to boost volume in '92.

In the increasingly competitive United Kingdom, ice cream turnover was valued at |pounds~736 million during 1991, according to AGB. Clarke Foods put it at a higher |pounds~796 million, down from |pounds~805 million in 1990. Nonetheless, an estimated 120 new product launches and relaunches took place last year, when the split between the take-home and impulse markets was reported to be |pounds~408 million and |pounds~388 million, respectively.

Ice cream market leader Wall's kicked off this summer season in Britain with an impulse item appropriately called "Kick." After three years of development, the Walton-on-Thames, Surrey-headquartered Unilever unit unveiled the chocolate-covered, twin-wafer product that features hazelnut-flavored dairy ice cream and caramel sauce wrapped in milk chocolate.

John Nicolson, marketing director, commented: "Kick will open up a whole new sector for us. Using our expertise in the ice cream business, we aim to capitalize on the continuing growth in the UK snack market with an all year 'round product."

Meanwhile, another Wall's innovation was duly honored by the British Frozen Food Federation as it presented the company a Gold Award in recognition of Magnum White's designation as Best New Ice Cream Product for 1991. Over 15 million Magnum portions were sold during its first year of introduction.

'Hey Dudes,' It's Bart

Talk about global marketing opportunities: Germany's Scholler extended its range of multi-fruit ice lollies bearing American cartoon character likenesses into the UK. Gangway man! The Simpsons, featuring individually-wrapped or four-piece multipacks of Bart- and Homer-on-a-stick, were guaranteed to have kiddie consumers going Aye Carumba!

Scholler also brought out Funny Melon, a range of fruit ice, lime water ice, chocolate crispies and macao white with dairy ice cream in a white chocolate covering.

The UK is not the only export market targeted by the DM 1$.5 billion company, which opened a new ice cream plant in Torokbalint, near Budapest. Theo Scholler commented: "We are not only interested in continued expansion in eastern Europe, but are also intent on getting involved there to give further encouragement to the Hungarian economy as a whole."

Yogurt Inches Forward

On the frozen yogurt front -- still relatively new in Britain with a value estimated at just |pounds~4 million -- Ski Bar is clearly the brand leader. "Our soft serve was the first yogurt product to be launched in the UK, and Strawberry Sky Bar was the first frozen yogurt bar," informed Pippa Kirkbride, commercial manager.

This summer saw the advent of an orange bar coated in dark chocolate, in addition to peach and passion fruit enrobed in milk chocolate. Retail packs containing four 65ml bars sell for |pounds~1.99, while individual units go for 60p. Profit margins are put at a healthy 25% to 30%.

New to the UK market this year is the Kemps label from Marigold Foods of Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. The company, which sells more frozen yogurt than any other single dairy in America, rolled into Britain with a hard-pack product.

Frozen yogurt has been tremendously successful in the USA, where estimated sales of $2.5 billion during 1991 accounted for 25.4% of the frozen dessert market value, while production of 185 million gallons represented 12.1% of the volume total, according to figures published by Find/SVP. It put total ice cream sales (including receipts from parlors and shops) at $5.3 billion, with ice milk accounting for another $1 billion.

But volume sales rung up at supermarkets actually melted last year, according to numbers churned out by Information Resources Inc. It tallied production for that sector at 863 million gallons, compared to a high of 882 million gallons in 1988. Dollar value advanced an anemic 1% in 1991, to $2.16 billion from $2.14 billion.

At least for the moment, it appears that the surge in highly profitable novelty frozen candy bar packs that lifted retail ice cream cases in the late 1980s has slowed down in America. In a bid to recapture the moment, a number of superpremium manufacturers have begun introducing more exotic product mixes. Vermont-headquartered Ben & Jerry's, whose Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream product was last year's big hit, recently unveiled Wavy Gravy. The recipe, which pays homage to the Woodstock folk here of the same name, boasts brazil nut ice cream laced with chocolate chunks, caramel and other goodies.

H.P. Hood Inc. of Boston, Mass., has targeted the kiddies with Cotton Candy ice cream. It features pink cotton-candy-flavored confection accented with swirls of blue cotton candy.

But perhaps the most creative of the new wave of mix-ups comes from the Teaneck, N.J.-based Haagen-Dazs Co. A unit of Grand Metropolitan Plc, its Exraas line of pint-sized upscale offerings includes such temptations as Triple Brownie Overload, Peanut Butter Burst, Cappucino Commotion, and Carrot Cake Passion. The latter, which sells for $2.29, is chock full of chunks of moist carrot cake and roasted pecans. Consumers are advised by instructions on the back panel to allow the product to soften slightly before serving in order to enjoy its full flavor.

By one count, more than 200 new ice cream and other frozen dessert have been launched in the United States this year. "In this market you can't afford not to develop new products to stay competitive," explained Duane Lefevre of Carvel Corp., Farmington, Conn. "If you don't, consumers will lose interest and go elsewhere. It's a way to differentiate our products."

Still, some old fashioned favorites continue to reappear in new packaging formats. Take the Hot Mocha Fudge Sundae from Weight Watchers. While hot fudge and dieting may sound like a contradiction in terms, the vanilla-flavored ice milk (not cream!) and extras -- which include a topping of roasted almonds -- checks in at only 160 calories a serving. Two microwave cups come per four ounce pack, which retails for $2.19. Consumers zap the treat at full power for 30 seconds, warming the sauce while keeping the ice milk firmly intact.

This year Americans in San Francisco, Atlanta, Detroit and Miami areas were let in on a frozen dessert that Europeans have been enjoying for the past decade. Viennetta, which has been available inconsistently in a number of test markets for several years in the States, is not only being rolled further afield but will be backed by a TV advertising campaign. A Good Humor brand product, it is a proprietary of Unilever Plc, N.V., the Anglo-Dutch food and consumer products giant.

Selling for $2.99 per 20.3 ounce box, Viennetta consists of 12 folds of vanilla or chocolate ice cream alternating with as many layers of crisp chocolate. Yet as rich as that is apt to be, the product has a light, delicate taste.

"We believe that Viennetta is the right product at the right time," said Eric Walsh, the ex-Birds Eye Wall's (UK) executive who is now president of Good Humor. "Viennetta has a proven track record in Europe, now accounting for 15% of the total ice cream market there. Complete ice cream desserts are about to emerge in America, and Viennetta has all the essential ingredients to pioneer and define this new category."

These are interesting times, indeed. The Americans are charging Europe with frozen yogurt, candy bars and superpremium ice cream (see the July '92 issue of QFFI, page 26), and the Europeans are teaching the Yanks a thing or two about marketing ice cream desserts in environments outside of traditional ice cream shops.

Ice Cream Demographics And Consumption Trends

The following information about the United States ice cream market was derived from statistics produced by the USDA and estimates from the International Ice Cream Association.

* The USA leads the world in per capita production of ice cream and related products with 46.36 pints per person. Finland ranks second with 42.10 pints per head. Australia (36.1), New Zealand (32.7), and Canada (29.3) round out the top five.

* The top five flavors of ice cream in America are: vanilla (30%), chocolate (9%), strawberry (5.3%), butter pecan (5.3%), and Neopolitan (4.2%).

* Approximately 25% of the ice cream consumed comes in the form of "bulk" servings dished out in retail shops, restaurants, universities, etc. Nearly 25% is described as novelty items, and the remaining 50% is packaged and sold for home use.

* Market shares by ice cream quality segment during 1990 were: premium (38.1%), regular (38.1%), economy (14.3%), superpremium (9.57%).

* Superpremium ice cream is most commonly consumed in households where there are no children present. Conversely, economy ice cream is more often found in homes with children.

* Adults eat 66% of the ice cream consumed per household, on average. Research shows that adults consider ice cream to be a "treat or indulgence." In turn, they serve it to children as a "reward."

* Children aged 12 and under, particularly those 2-5, eat the highest number of frozen novelties (such as prepackaged cones, sandwiches and stick items); however, adults consume nearly one-half of all ice cream novelties.
COPYRIGHT 1992 E.W. Williams Publications, Inc.
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Title Annotation:includes related article; Wall's ice cream confection called Kick
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Oct 1, 1992
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