European ice cream market stays cool in a cold economy

Europeans are not holding back on luxuries such as ice-cream despite a poor economy, shows new research from Mintel Global Market Navigator.

The five biggest European ice-cream markets; Germany, France, Italy, UK and Spain, stood at around £4.6 billion in 2009 – up from the £4.1 billion in 2008.

Germans are the biggest ice-cream lovers in Europe, with Germany spending an average of £19 per head on the treat each year. France came in second with £14 per head, followed by Italy and the UK, at £13 per head. Spain came in at fifth place with £10 per head.

Premium ice-cream accounted for just under a quarter of value sales in the UK last year, with total sales reaching £799 million– up £56 million from 2008.

The value of ice cream in the UK is predicted to grow further to £814 million by 2012.

Global Market Navigator analyst Ana Lourenco at Mintel, said the recent increase in premium lines of ice-cream was a reason for the market’s success.

“The idea of ice cream as a ‘permissible treat’ has been taken on board by manufacturers, who have focused on more premium and ‘indulgent’ lines in the past year, helping drive market value forwards.”

Ms Lourenco said consumers were more concerned about additives and preservatives than the amount of fat in ice-creams.

“Because ice cream is regarded as an occasional treat – over half of ice cream eaters indulge at most once a month – it has been relatively unaffected by a marked trend in general towards healthier eating,” she said. “Low-fat ice cream is almost a contradiction in terms, since a creamy taste is a major reason for eating it.”

Mintel’s Global New Products Database revealed that premium lines of ice-cream accounted for 9 per cent of global ice cream product launches in the past six months, compared to economy new product launches which accounted for only 4 per cent.

Chocolate was the most popular flavour for ice-cream in 2009 across the five European countries. Thirty two per cent of the total ice-cream products launched in the UK were chocolate flavoured, compared with 31 per cent in Spain, 22 per cent in Italy, 17 per cent in Germany, and 16 per cent in France.

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