Sam Moore
Sam is a Global Food & Drink Analyst at Mintel, specialising in dairy and beverages.

Today, ice cream is no longer just a treat that consumers have during the hotter days. Instead, it is now being consumed as a snack all year round, as well as for functionalities such as stress relief. Mintel research reveals that three in four UK ice cream consumers agree that it is appealing to eat ice cream all year round, while a third of dessert consumers in China say that they bought ice cream to release pressure.

As such, there is an opportunity for ice cream brands to target a broader range of eating occasions including nighttime, breakfast and exercise.

Nighttime ice cream

The US saw the launch of Nightfood, a ‘sleep-friendly’ ice cream targeted specifically at the nighttime occasion. Nightfood’s range of nighttime ice cream is low in lactose, and contains a balance of fibre, protein, amino acids and enzymes to aid sleep and reduce acid relax; it also has less sugar. The range’s Cherry Eclipse variant, for example, relies on a specific type of cherry that is naturally high in melatonin. According to the brand, plant-based variants are planned for launch in 2020.

Companies and brands around the world are jumping on the relaxation trend, and as a result, we have started to see more introductions of dairy products that are designed for the nighttime occasion.

Soda Tiger Nut Vegetable Protein Beverage, China

This protein beverage is suggested to be used at nighttime as it puts less burden on the stomach.

Meiji Yogurt for Night Time, Japan

This nighttime-targeted yoghurt is designed to be eaten at the end of the day and contains 44% reduced calories and 1.6% milk fat.

Better-for-you ice cream for breakfast

Wildly popular ice cream brand Halo Top has shown that the indulgent snack can be seen as healthy. With this, more products calling out high protein, fibre and other added nutrients are claiming to be suitable for breakfast occasions.

Snow Monkey, Cinnamon Superfood Ice Treat, US

This plant-based ice cream is positioned as a treat that’ll give the body a nutritious recovery boost.

One example is Snow Monkey Cinnamon Superfood Ice Treat, which describes itself as an anytime treat that can be eaten for breakfast or as an indulgent treat. According to the manufacturer, it is a plant-based ice cream with a delicious blend of superfoods, fruits and seeds. It uses bananas as a base for lean, long-lasting energy and contains 21g of plant-based protein in every pint. It has more protein than three eggs, more vitamin C than 150 blueberries and more iron than 25 cups of raw spinach.

Companies can explore including ingredients like yoghurt, oats and granola to position frozen treats for the breakfast occasion. Developing such recipes in on-the-go formats such as bars and sandwiches can help ice cream brands to engage with the global trend for wholesome breakfast snacks.

Pingwich Banana Ice Cream and Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich, Brazil

This ‘sandwich’ is an artisanal product made with a blend of two oatmeal and raisin cookies and a scoop of homemade ice cream.

Choice Frozen Yogurt Plus, Israel

This frozen treat is described as a yoghurt popsicle coated with chocolate, granola and walnuts.

Riding the fitness trend

As the fitness trend continues to take off globally, more food and drink products are moving into the fitness and sports nutrition space—including ice creams. The strategy of riding the fitness wave has potential: Mintel research shows that Chinese consumers look for added vitamins, hydration, energy and protein in their sports nutrition products to meet their needs during, before or after exercise.

Meanwhile, Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) shows that globally, claims like ‘added protein’ and ‘functional energy’ are on the rise in the ice cream and frozen yoghurt categories (both dairy and plant-based). This is an indication that more ice cream launches positioned for the exercise space may appear in the market.

Alive High Protein Vanilla Flavoured Iced Dessert Lollies, Germany

These lollies are said to be convenient, have a low-sugar content and provide 6g of protein and 65kcal per portion. They claim to be a perfect post-workout snack for recovery.

PowerICE Hydration Popsicles, US

These frozen electrolyte ice bars are designed to cool you down and rehydrate your body. They are said to be chock-full of electrolytes (20mg of potassium and 25mg of sodium).