What Makes the Ice Cream Industry So Attractive
As anyone who has worked for a chamber of commerce knows, the arrival of a prospective new member can set off tremors of excitement – and then days of constant, nose-to-the-computer-screen research.
Invariably, these new members want to know – and deserve to know – the answer to one crucial question: What makes you think my business will succeed in this town?
Little did the prospective owner of an ice cream franchise know how hard we’ve worked to answer this question – and how often our research forays would lead to gustatory fantasies along the lines of, “Gee, wouldn’t it be great to have a genuine ice cream store in town?” It’s not that we harbored a dislike of frozen yogurt or other “healthful” frozen treats. But, let’s face it, when you crave the richness and full-bodied flavor of ice cream, the alternatives fall short.
Three industry sources were particularly instrumental in our research – and whet our appetite for holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony for that dessert franchise:
- “Ice Cream Market in the U.S. 2016-2020,” a 57-page report compiled by Technavio that cost (ahem) $2,500 to download. A highlight therein: The U.S. ice cream market is forecast to grow by nearly 2.10 percent from now until 2020, which sounds modest until you consider that this growth is spread among supermarkets, specialty food stores, convenience stores and even vending machines.
- Consumer data from IRI, which wowed us with the revelation that Americans eat 1.5 billion gallons of ice cream a year, which set our calculators into a tizzy, trying to translate that total to the number of residents in our urban-suburban community.
- Sales and trends from the International Dairy Foods Association, which reports that premium ice cream brands – not lower-calorie options – are most popular with consumers (like those at our chamber).
Our conclusion: the time has never been better to open a dessert franchise – not just in our community but also in virtually any other town in America. Deluged with statistics, we segregated our findings into three groups for our prospective franchise owner to review:
Americans’ Passion for Ice Cream Bodes Well for an Ice Cream Franchise
- The average American eats ice cream about 30 times per year.
- The average American consumes almost 22 pounds of ice cream per year.
- About 90 percent of U.S. households serves ice cream as dessert at least once over the course of a year.
- In any given two-week period, 40 percent of Americans everywhere will eat ice cream.
- Nearly 90 percent of Americans have some kind of ice cream stored in their freezer at any given time throughout the year.
- Summer remains the most popular season for Americans in any climate to consume ice cream.
- Vanilla remains the most popular flavor among consumers. (Chocolate chip mint and cookies and cream were the next most popular flavors.) And about 30 percent of total ice cream sales involve some type of vanilla flavoring.
- About 1 in 5 Americans admit they regularly eat ice cream in bed. Another 3 percent say they eat ice cream while taking a bath.
Americans’ Ability to Spell Out What They Want Bodes Well for a Franchise
- Nearly 80 percent of consumers say that premium ice cream is their favorite. Only 10 percent expressed a preference for ice cream novelties, such as ice cream sandwiches and bars.
- Sweet and salty combinations for ice cream are becoming more common and favored by consumers, with salted caramel being a clear favorite.
- Consumers are also signaling a strong preference for berry flavors, especially raspberry.
- Taking their lead from consumer focus groups, more ice cream brands are busy incorporating everything from bitter fruits and vegetables to cheese and alcohol into ice cream to create signature flavors.
- In 2015, German Chocolate Cake, Black Raspberry Krunch Sundae, and Hawaiian Wedding Cake Ice Cream were named the most innovative ice cream flavors at an International Foodservice Distributors Association competition.
The Industry Response Bodes Well for a Dessert Franchise
- Ice cream manufacturers made more 872 million gallons of ice cream in 2014.
- Two-thirds of ice cream manufacturers say they primarily market their products to local consumers.
- Ice cream sold in the United States averages a fat content of 16 percent.
- Nearly 10 percent of all the milk produced in the United States is dedicated to the production of ice cream.
Naturally, statistics of any kind take a while to digest. But that’s partly why they can be so alluring. As we told that prospective dessert franchise owner, it’s obvious that Americans are still sweet on ice cream – and that a franchise managed by a diligent owner can succeed not just in ours but in any American town.