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IDFA releases new ice cream trends survey

ice cream cone
Chocolate, Vanilla, and Cookies N’ Cream remain top-three flavors.

National Ice Cream Month is just around the corner and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) has partnered once again with Research America Inc. to survey America’s love for all things ice cream and frozen desserts. This year’s survey is the most comprehensive to date, polling major national and regional ice cream makers and processors from IDFA’s membership, as well as hundreds of smaller scoop shops and retail ice cream makers from the North American Ice Cream Association, in addition to 1,000 American consumers.

So, what’s the scoop? According to the survey, America’s favorite flavors depend on who you ask—ice cream makers or consumers. Results found:

Top five flavors among ice cream makers and scoop shops:

  1. Cookies N’ Cream
  2. Vanilla
  3. Chocolate
  4. Mint Chocolate Chip
  5. Strawberry

Top five flavors among consumers:

  1. Chocolate
  2. Cookies N’ Cream
  3. Vanilla
  4. Strawberry
  5. Chocolate Chip

It’s clear that chocolate, vanilla, and cookies n’ cream remain the top-three flavors in the country, mirroring results from the 2017 IDFA-Research America survey. This year, however, a few new flavors entered the top-five with the emergence of strawberry and chocolate chip alongside top-five staple mint chocolate chip.

“America’s love for ice cream knows no bounds,” said IDFA President and CEO Michael Dykes, D.V.M. “Comforting and satisfying as an indulgent treat, ice cream production and consumption grew throughout the COVID pandemic and sales continue to set a blazing pace at grocery, scoop shops, and corner stores. America’s favorite frozen treat is more than dessert—it also supports nearly 30,000 jobs and pumps $13.1 billion into our nation’s economy each year according to IDFA’s Dairy Delivers.”

He continued, “This July, celebrate National Ice Cream Month with a cone, pint, or half-gallon of your favorite flavor and know that you’re also supporting dairy farmers and manufacturers across this great nation.”

More results from the IDFA-Research America survey:

What type of container do consumers prefer?

  • Waffle cones beat out sugar cones 32% to 12% among consumers, but 37% of consumers prefer to eat their ice cream out of a bowl.

What type of toppings do consumers prefer?

  • Chocolate is the most popular topping sauce, beating caramel 26% to 18%. Nuts and sprinkles are the most popular dry toppings, 15% and 14%, respectively.

Which nuts do consumers prefer?

  • Among nuts, pecans beat peanuts 24% to 18% among consumers.
  • Ice cream makers and scoop shops report the same ranking.

What is the most popular fruit included with ice cream?

  • Strawberries, at 48% of consumers. Bananas ranked second at 36%.

What is the most popular confection included in ice cream according to ice cream makers? 

  • Cookies take the top spot (46%), followed by candy/chocolate pieces (27%) and brownies (19%).

When and how often do consumers eat ice cream?

  • 73% of consumers consume ice cream at least once per week and two out of three consume ice cream in the evening.

Where do consumers buy their ice cream?

  • 84% prefer to purchase ice cream at the grocery store and eat it at home.

When purchasing ice cream, what size container do consumers prefer?

  • Almost half of consumers prefer half-gallon containers for ice cream from a grocery store; 23% prefer a pint.

Other ice cream facts from the survey:

  • Sandwiches are the most popular novelty product, beating out cones 48% to 21%, followed by sticks/pops at 12%.
  • While ice cream makers say they are seeing increased demand for non-dairy ice creams and plant-based ingredients, consumers rank these at the bottom of the list for most-consumed types of ice cream and frozen desserts.
  • Premium and regular ice cream is 80% of the market, according to ice cream makers.
  • July is the busiest month for ice cream production when nearly three out of five of all ice cream is produced, followed by June and May.
  • Two-thirds of ice cream makers say they already use or plan to incorporate more sustainable packaging solutions.

IDFA’s National Ice Cream Trends Survey was conducted in May through June 2022 and included members of the International Dairy Foods Association, the North American Ice Cream Association, and U.S. consumers who self-reported consuming ice cream in the last month. Email invitations and links were sent by IDFA and the North American Ice Cream Association to their members to complete an online survey. Research America Inc. surveyed ice cream consumers online via panel sample on a nationwide basis.

To see the full results, visit here.

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