Vogue declares ice pops the most delicious food trend for summer 2017

Spices boast punchy aromas and flavours, dazzling colours and associations with medicinal qualities, too. But as consumers continue to cut back on sugar, can spices also provide a solution for embattled ice cream makers?

Ice pops have been flirting with a fashionable image over the past few years, partly thanks to the use of alcohol in recipes that cemented their sophisticated adult-only status. This reputation was sealed in April 2017, when an article on Vogue’s online news site claimed that ‘Glow Pops Should Be This Summer’s Most Delicious (And Healthy) Food Trend.’ The title refers to a new recipe book filled with recipes for healthy, yet tasty ice pops which contain spices and herbs. Vogue’s bold declaration suggests a wider demand among consumers for spices to have a bigger role in frozen treat innovation. Currently, they are largely appearing in better-for-you recipes from fairly niche brands

Certainly, there seems to be consumer interest in spicy frozen treats. 24% of French ice cream eaters are interested in seeing spices (eg ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg) added to recipes, marking a sizeable level of interest. Over-55s are even more likely to want to see such innovation, presenting a means by which manufacturers can potentially increase usage among this older – and traditionally lower usage – group.

Ice pop makers can look to juice for spice inspiration

In addition to delivering exotic flavours, spices can also be used in low/no/reduced sugar ice cream recipes. UK ice cream makers have been tasked by government health agency Public Health England to reduce sugar levels by 20% by 2020. This is incredibly challenging, as sugar is integral to the texture of ice cream, as well as its flavour.

But as an alternative to portion controlling, manufacturers could potentially cut sugar content in ice cream and not surrender the flavour appeal by using spice to mask the less sweet flavours. As the war on sugar rumbles on, various food and drink websites and forums are championing the use of spices over sugar. For example, cinnamon and ginger can be added to coffee instead of sugar to deliver a warm, sweet flavour without the calorie hit. This could be replicated in frozen treats, too.

Using spice in this way seems to be already happening in the drinks category, where herb and spice flavours have risen in profile among new low sugar launches over the past few years, mainly because of the exotic flavours and perceived links with cleansing and detoxing.

Alex Beckett is a Global Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel. Prior to that he spent nearly three years writing UK-based consumer reports on a wide variety of food and drink categories. Prior to joining Mintel, Alex was Food and Drink Editor of highly-regarded food industry magazine, The Grocer.

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