Demand for non-dairy ice cream is booming in Germany, as dairy alternatives are no longer strictly marketed to consumers with special dietary requirements, but appeal to a wider health-conscious consumer base. Indeed, new Mintel research finds nearly two-thirds (63%) of German ice cream consumers are interested in non-dairy alternatives, such as almond or coconut based ice cream.

Moreover, it seems German consumers are even willing to pay a premium price for these options, as one in five (20%) Germans say that they would be willing to pay more for non-dairy ice cream, rising to nearly one third (30%) among 16 to 24 year olds.


The high demand for non-dairy ice cream is also evident in other key European countries, with interest signaled by 78% of Polish, 69% of Italian, 68% of Spanish and 63% of French consumers. What’s more, the willingness to spend more on such alternatives seems to be pronounced across Europe, with 27% of consumer in Poland, 21% in Italy, 25% in Spain, and 18% in France agreeing they would pay a premium price for these options.

Julia Buech, Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel, said:

“While dairy alternatives were originally created for consumers with special dietary requirements, such as those who are lactose intolerant or suffering from allergies, today they represent more of a lifestyle choice, especially among younger generations. This is based on a strong combination of health and ethical reasons, as well as evolving taste preferences and the appeal of novel flavours.”

Responding to strong consumer demand, dairy-free ice cream is gaining ground in Germany, where the share of non-dairy launches reached a sizeable 8% of total ice cream introductions*, compared to just 2% between 2013 and 2014, according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD). In wider Europe, non-dairy ice cream is also expanding its niche, albeit at a more modest pace. According to Mintel, in 2015 the share of new dairy-free introductions reached 3% in Europe overall, up from 2% in 2014 and 1% in 2013.

Mintel research has also found that even though the UK has held the crown as the most innovative non-dairy ice cream market for years, it looks like German manufacturers have upped their game in 2015. Indeed, the UK was leading non-dairy ice cream innovation between 2013 and 2015 overall, accounting for 19% of total launches in Europe, followed by Germany (16%) and Italy (14%). However, looking at 2015 alone, Germany launched 26% of all new non-dairy ice creams, outpacing both the UK (17%) and Italy (12%).

Launch activity in Germany’s non-dairy ice cream sector is increasingly shifting from soy to other alternatives. The share of soy-based launches decreased from close to 100% in 2012 to 35% in 2015, in the favour of alternatives based on coconut, almond, rice, and, more recently, lupine. Non-soy alternatives thus accounted for 65% of overall non-dairy ice cream launches in 2015.

“While soy’s image has suffered from negative associations related to both health and the environment, new non-dairy ice cream alternatives have profited from a taste and texture standpoint. Moreover, they are being explicitly utilised to underline a premium, indulgent positioning. Super-premium has in fact become the playing field of the majority of new launches in Germany, with decadent flavours such as salted caramel, apple pie, or coconut-bourbon vanilla prevailing.” says Julia.

What’s more, organic and ethical-production claims are also on the rise, accounting for an impressive 90% of all newly introduced non-dairy ice cream products in Germany in 2015. This comes as almost half (47%) of German consumers are interested in buying organic ice cream, with 28% willing to pay more for it – rising to two out of five (37%) 25-34 year olds. Meanwhile, three out of five (59%) Germans show an interest in ice cream that contains locally sourced ingredients such as milk from local farmers, and half (50%) of German consumers are keen on buying ice cream that is handmade.

“Having escaped the realm of substitutes primarily for people with dietary concerns, non-dairy ice cream launches capture the imagination of modern consumers who do not exclusively opt for dairy-free, yet welcome the new variety. Far removed from a specialist dietary positioning, the new wave of non-dairy products focus strongly on taste and indulgence, and are designed to compete with the best of what dairy-based ice cream has to offer. ” Julia concludes.

*excluding sorbets

Press copies of the research and interviews with Julia Buech, Food and Drink Analyst, are available on request from the press office.


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