The first signs of spring—flowers poking up, temperatures rising and ice cream. Yes, ice cream comes to mind as soon as spring is in the air. This could also be because of the annual IDFA (International Dairy Foods Association) Ice Cream Technology Conference…People often ask me – “what do you do at an ice cream conference, eat ice cream?” I typically respond with “as a matter of fact, we do taste ice cream, scoops and scoops of ice cream.”
This event however, is so much more than just tasting ice cream. It is a one-of-a-kind event focusing on the science of making ice cream, as well as, new technologies, market trends, food safety and regulatory issues relating to the frozen dessert industry. This year’s event was exceptional. Highlighted below are a few of the topics I found most interesting.
• Entrepreneurs disrupting the ice cream category
• Social media used as a powerful tool, renewing interest in ice cream brands and flavors
• Practical implications of formulating clean label
• Regulatory and legislative issues facing the industry
• Consumer trends
• Innovative ice cream competition (participants tasted and evaluated approximately 45 ice cream/frozen novelties creations)
o Several top-rated flavors this year were spicy mango-raspberry; nuts over kettle corn, pomegranate-sweet potato, salted caramel pecan, and chocolate chip cookie dough
You’re probably not surprised to read the ice cream competition is my favorite conference session, and fruit is where my ice cream flavor leanings lie. It’s not that I won’t toy with other flavors now and again, but my go-to is always a fruit-flavored version. I can’t think of anything better than raspberries, strawberries, peaches, cherries, or blueberries swirled into creamy vanilla ice cream. Pure deliciousness! For the record, vanilla is America’s favorite ice cream flavor by volume, followed by chocolate. And strawberry ranks highest among fruit flavors.
What might surprise you though is consumers are seeking heathier indulgence even in the ice cream category. Formulators from the top brands are exploring options to reduce added sugar, lower calories, create simple, clean ingredient labels or increase protein levels. This is an exciting shift in the industry, which may move ice cream out of the dessert category and into the snack space.
When ice cream meets – heathier snacking, it is a fine time to be in the fruit ingredient business. After all, fruit naturally carries a health halo. Learn more about fruit ingredients or view how we process 24 million pounds of strawberries primarily used by the ice cream/frozen novelty industry in our resource library.