Whipping up some happiness!

Despite the ongoing challenges of Covid-19, the ice cream category is performing well with consumers trading up from own brand to more indulgent branded alternatives. Fionnuala Carolan reports


Brand Central

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28 April 2021

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Eating ice cream makes people happy and during the last year we’ve been looking for small indulgences in life to bring ourselves some joy, evident by the presence of ice cream vans in parks throughout winter, which have never been there before.

A Mintel Report titled ‘The Future of the Ice Cream Market Report 2021’ found that 2020 created new opportunities for ice cream brands. Within the next two years, Mintel expects to see sustainability, as well as a focus on health propositions, to occupy the centre stage of ice cream brand strategies. In line with consumer health and wellness trends, the availability of better-for-you options has continued to expand, it noted. Meanwhile, Euromonitor Ireland said it expects vegan alternatives to gain further traction.

Of course, treating is a key driver of sales in the ice cream sector and Mintel added that indulgence and flavours remain the key ice cream purchase attributes. The category is expected to maintain and reinforce its indulgent positioning both in dairy and dairy-alternative variants.

ShelfLife looks at the must-have products for the season.

An ice cream kiss

Smooch has already expanded into seven new locations within the first three months of 2021

Maintaining its position as the number one soft-serve ice cream brand, Smooch ice cream continues to outperform the market – seeing stores exceed 160,000 in annual turnover. No big forecourt or superstore necessary; sales figures like these come from typical convenience stores in local towns, driven by a committed fan base across the country.

With a network of over 170 stores, Smooch has already expanded into seven new locations within the first three months of 2021. April will see the introduction of new digital screens onto their already modern parlours. They are making the move to digital and have put a lot of work into not just the look but the functionality of the new screens.

Now in its third generation, this family business has been at the forefront of innovation for over 30 years. With the consumer at its heart and retailers at the core, Dairyglen understands that ice cream is more than just a machine. According to Dairyglen, over 60% of its consumer base refuses to purchase another brand if Smooch is not available in store. Dairyglen offer fully managed ice-cream solutions backed up by over 60 years of combined industry experience. Understanding the nature of the business means understanding that the wrong ice cream partner can cost you thousands in lost turnover.

Smart retailers choose Smooch, according to the brand. For more information, visit www.dairyglen.ie and follow us on Instagram @smooch_icecream

Tastes like home

Dale Farm is rolling out a major rebrand this spring, which will see the brand unveil a fresh new visual identity across its full portfolio. The rebrand comes on the back of extensive research conducted across the island of Ireland which saw the company speak with 1,500 Irish ice cream consumers. According to Nigel Cairns, commercial director for Dale Farm Ice Cream, that research encouraged the company to modernise the brand and emphasise Dale Farm’s credentials as a local brand, owned by the local farmers that supply it with milk. “Interestingly, 41% of the consumers we spoke to felt that the ice cream market in Ireland lacked local brands,” Cairns says. “So as part of our rebrand we are using packaging and marketing to make consumers more aware of Dale Farm’s local credentials. We are one of the only ice cream brands from this island in a market dominated by global brands. Irish consumers aren’t seeing enough local brands in their local supermarkets, and that is very much a gap Dale Farm is working hard to fill.


NielsenIQ data reveals that Dale Farm ice cream sales grew at three times the rate of the market in the past year

“The research also revealed a limited awareness of the fact that Dale Farm is a cooperative – owned by the same farmers who milk the cows. This is an important part of our story in a market that has been dominated by global PLCs. We have placed our farmer-owned credentials at the heart of our fresh new look for the brand. We want consumers across Ireland to know that by choosing Dale Farm products, they are supporting local farmers – hence our strapline ‘Sharing Goodness Everyday’.”

Dale Farm has been steadily growing and increasing its share in the Republic of Ireland ice cream market in recent years. In the last year in particular, NielsenIQ data reveals that Dale Farm ice cream sales grew at three times the rate of the market in both the take home and impulse ice cream markets, with the brand up 96% in take home ice cream and 34% in impulse ice cream year on year. “Lockdown saw a shift in consumer behaviour towards more indulgent products, with consumers seeking out ice cream and other treats to eat in-home,” Nigel adds. “Within the take home category, we also saw a shift to brand from own-label, and Dale Farm saw a big increase of consumers buying into the brand in bigger numbers.

Dale Farm is one of the only Irish ice cream brands in a market dominated by global brands

“Our latest ice cream research conducted in January 2021 with 1,500 Irish ice cream consumers uncovered new trends in how, and when, Irish consumers are eating ice cream. At present, the biggest ice cream occasion is as a snack between meals, rather than necessarily as a dessert or on the sofa with a movie. The findings have been enlightening in a number of areas and will inform our innovation pipeline and how we sell and market our ice cream going forward.”

Dale Farm grew by 34% in the impulse category last year

The impulse ice cream category also had a good year, growing by 14.7%, in part helped by the good weather last spring. In the same period, Dale Farm grew by 34% in the impulse category. Nigel Cairns cites Dale Farm’s route to market as a major factor in the brand’s ongoing growth. “We are the only company in the Irish ice cream market that owns the route to market for the entire island,” he says. “At a time when many supply chains were under pressure due to Covid and Brexit challenges, the fact that we don’t use outside agents or outside distribution meant that our supply to our customers remained uninterrupted.”

Dale Farm impulse ice cream products and impulse freezers can be found in over 3,000 convenience stores across the island of Ireland with an extensive portfolio of Dale Farm impulse ice cream products as well as the Mars ice cream lines, for which Dale Farm is a distributor across Ireland. New packaging and brand visuals including rebranded in-store freezers are being rolled out to all of Dale Farm’s retail partners from the end of March. Dale Farm’s fleet of lorries are also being rebranded to reflect the new look and drive continued awareness of the new Dale Farm brand identity.

Rapture, Dale Farm’s premium chocolate ice cream bar range, grew at a rate of 160% last year

Rapture is Dale Farm’s premium chocolate ice cream bar range, and the only Irish brand operating in the chocolate stick category. Irish consumers have fallen in love with the luxuriously creamy ice cream range, with sales reaching €1.4 million last year, growing at a phenomenal rate of 160%.

Rapture is enjoyed across the island of Ireland, whether it is on the go as an impulse snack or as an at-home treat with the range of multi-packs each containing three full size Rapture ice creams.

The core Rapture range is available in Triple Berry, Salted Caramel, Honeycomb and Mint. Just launched this year is the super indulgent Rapture Signature range, which has two variants, milk and white chocolate, both filled with luxurious dairy ice cream with double cream and vanilla pods.

Q&A with Nigel Cairns, commercial director, Dale Farm ice cream

How has Dale Farm innovated as a company to ensure you are meeting customer demands? How does your sales performance reflect this?

We made the strategic decision around three years ago to expand our brand and operations in the Republic of Ireland market – putting a full team on the ground selling and delivering to every corner of Ireland and to key multiple accounts. Since then we have been steadily growing and increasing our share in the Irish ice cream market, and are now the number 4 ice cream brand in the Republic of Ireland, and by a considerable margin the fastest growing ice cream brand on this island.

How has Dale Farm as a company worked to navigate the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic?

The pandemic has challenged the entire food supply chain in a once in a generation way – as a company and as an industry we have risen to that challenge, adapting quickly to an ever-changing situation.

Lockdown has also led to changes in demand and consumer behaviour. Ice cream consumed in-home actually saw an uplift in 2020, and within that category we saw a real shift from own-label to brand in supermarkets. This significant uplift presented real challenges for many companies’ supply chains – and we are proud that at Dale Farm we stepped up to the plate. Given the fact that we are a local supplier, with a more stable supply chain for Irish retailers, we were better placed than others to respond to the challenge. All of our ice cream is delivered directly to store by Dale Farm employees.

How have you worked in partnership with retailers to drive sales?

We work with all of our retailers to deliver the right package, from tailored shopper marketing programmes to highlight our brands and maximise rate of sale to the right commercial package and support. We ensure we feature our customers on social media and influencer activity to drive consumers towards local stockists, and run geo targeted digital advertising to point consumers towards specific stores where promotions are taking place.

On the impulse side of our business we offer a 24 hour breakdown call out service on our freezers. We know how important that level of customer service is to ensure continuity of sales in busy periods. With our Mullin’s scoop ice cream brand we offer a bespoke design and fit service to offer an instore ice cream parlour concept.

What advice would you give retailers in order to make their ice cream category stand out and successfully attract custom?

Ice cream is an impulse purchase – seven out of eight consumers don’t know upon entry into the store which product they are going to select. Therefore supporting them with external visibility to encourage that impulse purchase and category management expertise will get the best return from your freezer based on the latest market data. Our aim is to deliver value to our customers and help maximise ice cream category performance, and we have been able to deliver this by providing an excellent quality product, and commercials that allow our retail partners to capitalise on additional margin.

How significant are your marketing plans for the next 12 months?

We are rolling out a high visibility marketing campaign across the island of Ireland to introduce Irish consumers to the new Dale Farm identity. Covid-19 challenges mean we have had to be innovative in how we deliver this – we aren’t able to go events and offer samples as normal, so it’s about engaging innovatively through digital and all of the traditional media channels as well as in-store activation. Our advertising campaign is all about bringing consumers into the world of Dale Farm – to tell our story and what we’re all about in a wholesome, heartfelt way.

Mindful indulgence

With over a third of consumers treating themselves more than ever, luxury ice cream brands like Häagen-Dazs, are in the ideal position to respond to that demand for extra comfort and pleasure, more relevant than ever in 2021, with new formats and innovations.

The brand provides retailers, and in turn consumers, with solutions for various needs and consumption opportunities. The tubs tap into the sharing at-home occasion, while the mini cups provide individual portion-sizes, ideal for those sharing opportunities, while also catering to the mindful consumption trend.

If people are going to indulge, they’re going to do it well. Luxury ice cream is a conscious treat spend, we pride ourselves on providing taste enjoyment that delivers every time and that’s what shoppers want; brands that consistently deliver.

Research shows that product quality and distinctiveness are the most important factors to buyers seeking a luxury experience – Häagen-Dazs over-indexes in both of these purchase drivers, that’s why we are so trusted by consumers

Within wellness, Häagen-Dazs is seeing strong growth in both areas of mindful consumption that it plays in: Gelato and standard Mini Cups, as people look to cut calories and gain better portion control.

The different portion sizes support consumer choice and allow shoppers to control their level of indulgence. The gelato range – an 150-kcal offering in 95ml cups – is growing +29%, and the standard Häagen-Dazs Mini Cups at +12%.

The core range still meets the mindful consumption trend with high quality, premium ingredients (fresh real cream and no artificial colours, flavours, palm oil or emulsifiers), so shoppers look to us as a trusted indulgence.

Shoppers have been trading up into premium brands over the past year and as a result have seen luxury tubs significantly and increasingly out-pacing everyday tubs (+24% vs. +19% growth YoY*) so demand for luxury remains a big opportunity within ice cream.

*(Source: Nielsen Scantrack – Total Ice Cream Total UK incl discounters EPOS.52w/e 26 December 2020)

Holy cow!

Moo’d uses milk and cream from over 2,100 farms across Ireland

Moo’d Irish ice-cream comes from the green hills of Cavan – handcrafted by a group of Irish experts and enthusiasts (and cows, don’t forget the cows). A 100% quality Irish product using dairy milk and cream from over 2,100 farms across the country, the brand has been serving happiness aka whirlies, cones, soft-serves, milkshakes and sundaes in Centra and SuperValu stores across the country since 2016 and is now in over 260 stores nationwide.

Moo’d is all about natural ingredients and simplicity, that’s why they steer clear of vegetable oils that could take from the creaminess of the dairy. It’s this creaminess and superior quality that has earned Moo’d Irish ice-cream a Blás na hEireann Award and two Great Taste Awards.

The team behind Moo’d says, “Whether you have the Monday blues or you’re riding high on that Friday feeling, we’ll do our best to uplift your mood to that next level. Give us a whirl.”

You can also chill at home with the Moo’d range of take-home tubs available in their most popular flavours; Madagascan Vanilla, Mint Chocolate Chip, Cookies and Cream Gelato as well as Salted Caramel and Chocolate Brownie.

Nation’s favourite whipped ice cream

Angelito is Ireland’s favourite soft ice cream

The nation’s best-selling whipped ice cream for over 40 years, Angelito claims to be the longest established and best loved whipped ice cream in Ireland.  Angelito provides up to 85% net margins per cone making it the best profit generator in any retail outlet.  Aside from its flavour, it is gluten free, so ideal for wheat intolerant and consumers with coeliac disease.

Enjoy year round sales of Angelito in tubs, desserts, sundaes, freshly made milkshakes to give fantastic sales and great margins.  Small in size, big in profit, a Carpigiani soft ice cream machine and Angelito ice cream menu make a great duo.  Easy to integrate into any business your customers will love to come back for it again and again.

For information on what’s trending this season and best-selling Angelito desserts, top of the toppings and coolest ways to whip up new profits in your business contact Martin Food Equipment, callsave 1850 30 36 36 or NI freefone 0800 783 98 59.



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