Can ice cream get 'healthier' and clean up its label?

Dive Brief:

  • Nestles' Skinny Cow frozen treat has shortened its ingredient list, knocking out “unfamiliar” names customers would rather not know about, such as rBST, a bovine growth hormone, with the “r” indication it's an artificial product, not a natural one, used to increase milk production, according to a story in Food Business News.

  • The product reformulation is consistent with the trend of “food industry marketers astutely churning out a variety of healthier, yet still decadent, frozen treats to please modern American consumers,” Packaged Facts wrote in a report about the market.

  • With more than 85% of American households consuming ice cream or sherbet, there is a powerful incentive for manufacturers to follow that number with new products of their own.

Dive Insight:

Old-fashioned butter-fat rich ice cream is getting harder to find as stores' freezer shelves are increasingly being taken over by healthier products. These are items with labels as “clean” as they could be, ingredient lists that consumers can understand, and products that nevertheless have that “ice cream” taste, or an approximation of it.

Consumers too often don't understand that if too many ingredients are taken out of a product, the result is either non-viable or has a sharply reduced shelf life. Since ice cream is frozen, spoilage could happen more slowly. However, shorter shelf lives inevitably would affect prices and product availability.

Another approach to getting clean labels on ice cream products is using full-fat ingredients, but reducing the size. Ben & Jerry's, whose ice cream is about as close to the old fashioned kind as you can find, acknowledged consumers' desire for less recently with the introduction of four flavors of ice cream slices – which are basically chocolate-covered bread-like slices of those flavors. Then the slices are individually packaged so the consumer can have just a little without being tempted to over-indulge.

B&J's ingredients lists still are long, but they feature no oddly-named preservatives and other items that are banished from clean labels.

Filed Under: Manufacturing Ingredients
Top image credit: Nestle