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    Study: Not as Many People Screaming for Ice Cream

    Recent findings show market sales have slowed, while the frozen yogurt segment is rising.

    By Stacy Straczynski

    NEW YORK -- Consumers will be looking for ways to keep cool this summer, but they won’t necessarily be screaming for ice cream, according to a recent study from Mintel.

    The 2009 "Ice Cream and Frozen Novelties" report shows the frozen treat sales continue to be flat. Growth the past two years was 1 percent compared to 3.6 percent in 2006 and more than 4 percent from 2003 to 2005.

    However, the frozen yogurt/tofu is the strongest performer in the category experiencing gains greater than 13 percent in 2008. Mintel forecasted continued growth in this segment through 2013. "This segment will grow both because it opens up the market to added distribution space outside of the usual ice cream and frozen novelties aisle, and because it reflects an important consumer trend toward interest in non-dairy products," the report summarized.

    Ice cream sales, a segment that still dominates the total market share at 60 percent, declined 1.1 percent while the sherbet, sorbets and ices segment grew 0.5 percent. Frozen novelty sales, meanwhile, saw a 2 percent to 3 percent increase.

    Low fat claims were the most important or consumers in terms of health, per the findings. Forty-two percent of respondents indicated this was a "somewhat important” or "very important" factor. However, there is still a strong split between health-oriented and indulgence-oriented mindset. One-third of respondents expressed health claims were unimportant in regards to their purchasing decisions. Two-thirds believed they would opt for frozen yogurt more often if the flavor-variety available for products was more robust.

    "Heath claims based on added health, rather than elimination/reduction, such as sugar or fat, [will be key]," said Molly Heyl-Rushmer, senior analyst at Mintel. "Consumers of all ages and health conditions will likely reward manufactures that are able to imbue their ice cream products with health properties while maintaining their good taste."

    --The Gourmet Retailer

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