- China has assumed the No. 1 spot for global ice cream consumption in 2014 with $11.4 billion market value at a growth rate of 90%, as compared to $11.2 billion in the U.S. at a growth rate of 15%, according to Mintel research. Volumes of ice cream sold in China came in at 5.9 billion liters for the year, while the U.S. saw 5.8 billion liters consumed.
- The U.S. still claims the top position for ice cream consumption per capita with the average American consuming 18.4 liters of ice cream per year. That's more than four times more ice cream than what an average Chinese consumer eats in a year.
- The global ice cream market as a whole reached $50 billion for the first time in 2014 over $48 billion in 2013 and a 9% increase over $46 billion in 2011.
Three factors converge to explain the state of the ice cream industry today, particularly in China. In emerging markets, like China, the middle class is surging, with about 93% of China's population predicted to be considered middle class by 2030, according to Business Insider. Disposable income is rising, which means more income to spend on food, as Chinese consumers spend on average about three times more of their income on food at home than Americans based on total consumer expenditures. Part of that could be disposable income spent on processed foods, like ice cream.
Also explaining the ice cream industry's massive growth in China is "the country's increasingly developed retail infrastructure and facilities for storing and suppling 'cool cargo' such as fresh produce, frozen foods and pharmaceutical drugs," according to The Telegraph.
In other countries, particularly in North America and Europe, consumer health concerns are having an impact on slowing the growth of the ice cream industry. Rising competition from yogurt, including Greek yogurt, has dampened ice cream sales as well over the past few years.