Unilever unveils new natural, dairy-free ice cream products
- Unilever said it was introducing 16 new frozen treats across five of its brands in 2017, according to a company release. Among the brands getting new products are Breyers, Good Humor, Klondike, Magnum Ice Cream and Popsicle.
- New product offerings include Breyer's first ever non-dairy ice cream line made with almond milk, and a new Simply Popsicle product line that's free of artificial colors and flavors. The new frozen desserts are currently available in supermarkets nationwide.
- "Through our research, we know consumers' taste and preferences evolve over time," Alfie Vivian, vice president of marketing for refreshments at Unilever said in a written statement. "It's important to give our customers more of what they love and provide new offerings that satisfy different tastes, preferences and dietary needs.
Consumers’ taste and preferences evolve over time, and Unilever is counting on a desire for unique flavors to make its product innovation strategy a winning one. Still, rather than rolling out completely new products, the company is playing it relatively safe by reformulating core brands to reflect popular flavor profiles and meet certain health and wellness demands.
As part of the company’s strategy, Unilever is embracing free-from and clean label movements with its dairy-free Breyers and Simply Popsicle. This is something that many manufacturers have been experimenting with over the past year as consumer demand for traceability increases.
The ice cream segment is an important one for Unilever — Americans spent nearly $6.5 billion on ice cream last year, a 2.5% increase over the previous year, according to Nielsen data.
Many other major ice cream producers have continued to push the category forward and align with both health and indulgence trends, a move that will likely pay off for Unilever as well. For example, Ben & Jerry's unveiled its line of non-dairy ice creams made with almond milk last year, while Nestle made ingredients changes for six brands under Dreyer's Ice Cream in April, which included removing artificial colors and flavors, high fructose corn syrup and GMOs.
It will be interesting to see if these changes will be enough to keep hyper-popular value-added ice cream brands like Halo Top from stealing more market share, or if major frozen treat manufacturers will need to further invest in branding changes and health commitments.
Follow Keith Loria on Twitter