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A growing desire for premium and indulgent ice cream has fed high value growth in Western Europe, helping manufacturers defy the recession, according to DairyReporter.com.

Newly published Mintel research suggests that the combined value of the French, UK, Italian, German and Spanish markets stood at £4.6 billion (NZ$9.68 billion) in 2009. This represents 12% growth on 2008 when the figure was £4.1 billion.

Such a high growth rate in these established markets was achieved despite a recession that ate into other industry sectors, especially on the luxury end. And in 2009 it was the premium products that drove the growth in market value.

“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,” Ana Lourenco, global market navigator analyst at Mintel was quoted as saying.

The premium trend was not confined to European market either as data from Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) suggests that premium lines accounted for 9% of global ice cream product launches in the past six months. By comparison, economy launches only accounted for 4%.

As for other trends, there is some movement towards healthier products although the potential of the trend is limited by the fact that ice cream is viewed as an occasional indulgence rather than an everyday staple. The “health and wellness” trend has therefore been expressed more in terms of freedom from additives than interest in low fat products.

Lourenco said: “Low-fat ice cream is almost a contradiction in terms, since a creamy taste is a major reason for eating it. Therefore, the strongest ‘health’ trend in global NPD has been towards ice cream free from additives and preservatives, rather than lower in calories.” A total of 13% of all global product launches in the past six months have touted a “no additives/preservatives” claim. — Source: DairyReporter

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