While once a standard tub of vanilla would suffice, new research from Mintel finds things are hotting up in the freezer cabinet as frozen yogurt gives ice cream a run for its money.

The warm summer of 2013 provided a significant boost to the ice cream market with a more than 7% year-on-year rise in values when sales jumped from £1.04 billion in 2012 to £1.12 billion in 2013 and a more than 4% increase in volumes from 340 million litres in 2012 to 352 million litres in 2013. But while value sales of ice cream are estimated to have risen 5% between 2011 and 2014 to reach £1.10 billion, volume sales are estimated to have fallen 3% over the same period to an estimated 345 million litres.

And as ice cream falls out of flavour with the nation, things are things are looking pretty sweet for frozen yogurt, the relatively new kid on the block. Indeed, value sales of frozen yogurt are estimated to have grown a cool 117% between 2011 and 2014 to reach £13 million. Volume sales have been even more impressive as sales are estimated to have tripled growing from 1 million litres in 2011 to 3 million litres in 2014. Although niche, Mintel’s research highlights the popularity of frozen yogurt – over one in 10 (13%) Brits have bought frozen yogurt in the past year alone.

Amy Price, Senior Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel, said:

“Frozen yogurt is seen as a healthier alternative to ice cream by as many as two in five ice cream and frozen yogurt users which highlights the potential for the segment to further position itself as the more permissible indulgence in the market to the sizeable minority. And while frozen yogurt remains a niche segment in the UK, wider availability in the retail market should help to expand usage, facilitating growth in the segment. Expansion by leading brands should boost the visibility of the segment among a wider pool of consumers, with usage currently biased towards 16-34s.”

While frozen yogurt benefits from a healthier image, in contrast, three in 10 (30%) people deem ice cream to be unhealthy. Meanwhile, a third (35%) of all users worry about the sugar content when eating ice cream, but despite this, less than three in ten (28%) say they would prefer to eat less ice cream then switch to light versions such as reduced fat and sugar. Indeed, development of lower-fat or sugar versions of ice cream and desserts is limited – less than 10% of new product launches in the ice cream and desserts market carried a low/no/reduced sugar claim in 2013.

“While indulgent treats such as ice cream are not expected to be particularly healthy, the impetus to develop healthier versions remains. So far, the use of Stevia in the ice cream category has been limited in Europe with no major manufacturer committed to its use. With brands under pressure to reduce sugar content, staying ahead of the state stick by looking to alternatives such as stevia could stand them in good stead with governments and consumers alike.”

Such action would particularly appeal to the 48% of adults who are trying to manage their weight by cutting back on sugary foods or drinks, with women (who show above-average purchasing and consumption of ice cream and desserts) more likely than average (52%) to take this abstemious approach.

Mintel’s Ice Cream and Desserts – UK – 2014 report uses a sample size of 1500 consumers and is available to purchase from Mintel priced £1750.

Press review copies of the report and interviews with Amy Price are available on request from the press office.

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