Tasty Reasons to Scream for Ice Cream

Homemade honey ice cream master recipe

Summer may be coming to a close, but consumers are becoming increasingly serious about one of the all-time favorite desserts — ice cream — on a year-round basis. The perennial favorite’s appeal has reached all-new heights thanks to a few sweet factors, namely the inclusion of honey in top brands’ product formulations.

Ice cream isn’t just a treat for the ages, it’s a treat for all ages. The average American eats 48 pints of ice cream per year, and the secret is out — adults eat more ice cream than children! The National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association found that 77% of adults think “ice cream could be part of a balanced diet,” thanks to inclusions like honey and fruit. The study also found:

  • Gen Z and millennials feel less guilty when eating fruit-based ice cream
  • Younger consumers are drawn to better-for-you options
  • Almost half of the respondents reported “always” looking at ice cream labels
  • Adults with children consume ice cream or frozen novelties more often than child-free adults, with 70% saying the dairy aisle is “essential” on every grocery trip

Honey Named as a Favorite Flavor
Honey paired with fruit flavors like strawberry, blueberry and raspberry in ice cream are gaining popularity. Other notable, unique blends include tangerine, pear and apricot, while the globally-inspired flavor trend has seeped its way into the ice cream category through dulce de leche, churros and tres leches products. Dairy Foods also reported that “brown flavors” like sea salt, bourbon vanilla and toasted coconut are making their way into consumers’ shopping carts. Heading into the fall, expect to see more nostalgic and exotic flavors like cinnamon, spiced chai, nutmeg, and ginger.

“Although processing exciting new flavors can always be a goal, ice cream and frozen novelties trends also favor nostalgic and sophisticated,” Jennifer Zhou, global director of product marketing, flavors for ADM, said. “Harkening back to treasured memories of the favorite flavors of youth, we see flavors like campfire peanut butter cup ice cream and butter cookie ice cream cones. Co-branding with popular brands and/or flavors also inspires thoughts of easier times that can bring consumers a self-care moment. We also see consumers doubling down on quality, sourcing, and unique experiences, such as elevating simple coffee-flavored ice cream to cold brew ice cream.”

Honey Allows for Permissible Indulgence
Ice cream may be associated with indulgence, but that notion is changing thanks to all-natural ingredients like honey. IFF’s Rogerio de Almeida Prado told Dairy Reporter that the concern with consumers has been that healthier ice cream options may compromise taste or texture. “Manufacturers can highlight the use of high-quality ingredients … and flavor enhancements that create delicious and satisfying products,” he said. Honey, of course, plays a key role here, delivering an all-natural, better-for-you sweetener with a smooth texture and familiar value to consumers. “Delivering on both health and indulgence can be challenging, but this is where functional and nutritional elements have an important role to play,” Prado said.

A few ice cream product developers have focused on the positive health halo that honey as an ingredient in this dessert can play, as evidenced in these fun, delicious sweet treats.

Sunny Honey Home, Ben & Jerry’s
Globally-inspired flavors from Morocco, Afghanistan and Syria have reached Ben & Jerry’s summer release, complete with sweet honey caramel swirls and lemon flavor cookies. Proceeds of this pint go to refugee-led startup businesses, part of which inspired the never-before-seen ice cream.

Photo Credit: Ben & Jerry's
Photo Credit: Ruby Jewel

Campfire S’mores, Ruby Jewel
A nostalgic favorite with a modern novelty twist, this summer seasonal ice cream sandwich from Ruby Jewel offers consumers honey graham ice cream and delicious marshmallows baked into double chocolate cookies.

Honey Blueberry Lavender, Alec’s Ice Cream
Real blueberries are combined with delicate ribbons of honey and a subtle finish of lavender for a trendy, award-winning treat. A NEXTY Best New Dessert finalist in 2022, Honey Blueberry Lavender was praised for the texture and subtle synergy among the namesake ingredients. This ice cream is made with organic 100% A2 milk and packaged in a 98% biobased container.

Photo Credit: Alec's Ice Cream

Ready to lick the competition and formulate the next best honey-sweetened, consumer-friendly ice cream? Email [email protected] to get started.