Future Trends

The frozen dessert segment is an approximately $10 billion per year industry. Nearly 100% of the U.S. population enjoys frozen desserts as part of their diet. Current trends suggest a modest industry growth rate.

The Nutrition Label Education Act (NLEA) significantly reshaped the landscape of frozen dessert standards. One result of the NLEA is that "ice milk" is no longer a legally recognized product in the United States. Along with the NLEA, consumer health concerns related to fat and calorie intake have driven the growth of new segments for Reduced Fat, Low-Fat, and Fat-Free ice creams, as well as No Sugar Added products. After initial explosive growth when good-quality low-fat products were no longer stigmatized with the "ice milk" label, these product segments shifted to more niche segments.

Historically, fat reduction has been a key driver in this segment's development. In response to increasing consumer awareness of health and wellness issues, efforts to reduce caloric content are expected to be a new motivator in the development of healthier products. Sorbet and water ices have enjoyed a significant growth in popularity Other segments that will emerge include organic ice cream and nutritionally-fortified frozen desserts.

Fat replacers such as certain proteins or starches as well as fat mimetics (eg, Olestra) will create new opportunities for high-quality "Better for You" products.

Starch technology advances will continue to create greater opportunities for fat replacement and specific product textures.

Milk protein concentrates, lactose-reduced skim milk, and the lactase enzyme will be keys to developing ice creams that are free of the sandy texture caused by lactose crystal formation.

Antifreeze proteins (ice crystal growth-controlling proteins found in cold climate plants and animals) have the potential to revolutionize the frozen dessert industry. They can dramatically reduce the effects of heat-shock. Their future use is dependent on the development of a protein that is both economical and label-friendly.

In the 1980s Listeria monocytogenes was a major food safety concern in ice cream and frozen dessert manufacture. While contamination by pathogens such as Listeria continues to be an industry concern, Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), the application of hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP), and improved equipment design have kept this potential issue in check. Control of food allergens in frozen desserts and in other foods has emerged as a critical food safety concern. The industry will again need to rely on HACCP in both ice cream manufacturing plants and suppliers' ingredient plants.

New forms of ice cream and ice cream novelties continue to be developed to meet specific consumer needs. The trend toward targeting specific consumer segments, as well as specific product use occasions, will be a key driver of future new products.

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