Are Dairy Companies Getting Their Just Desserts?


Desserts have an enduring appeal for generations of shoppers. Innovation has been constant and new twists on old classics are regularly appearing on the supermarket shelves. Each country has classic recipes but there are increasingly cosmopolitan fusions of flavours, textures and styles that are attracting the attention of dairy companies.

In regards to flavour, the most popular subcategories for yogurt desserts are summer fruits with 31% of all products launched. Alternative summer fruits such as wild blueberry and forest fruits are becoming a substitute to the traditional strawberry flavour of yesteryear. The second most common flavour is chocolate at 17%, closely followed by orchard fruits, milk and cream and vanilla. The most popular flavour within the ice cream sector is still the traditional vanilla in both supermarket and foodservice sales, hardly surprising as end users such as chefs and caterers know it to be the most versatile as it mixes well with other flavours and toppings. Vanilla flavoured ice cream is closely followed by strawberry and mint choc chip. However, different flavours are constantly being introduced to keep consumers looking, some of which are very exotic such as green tea, Stilton, and garlic.

The trend with dairy desserts that has seemed to rapidly increase in popularity over recent years is the cheese wedding cake, in replacement to the standard red velvet chocolate and vanilla recipes. This latest fashion in desserts is particularly appealing to those with a deep appreciation of Cheddar, Brie and Feta.

The most common and favoured textures within dairy desserts are, rich, creamy, smooth and velvety. Examples of these are Waitrose deliciously smooth low fat yoghurt and Activia intensely creamy velvety vanilla.

In terms of marketing, many global brands use provenance of ingredients or intermediates to promote flavour, such as Morrison’s Canadian blueberry yoghurt’ and Budgens Madagascan Vanilla Yoghurt.

Another increasingly common trend across the globe in terms of marketing is co-branding. This involves partnering with a successful brand with the main aim being to increase product awareness and convert shoppers of the main brand into the licensed dessert. In particular, ice-cream manufacturers have more commonly used this technique, using ingredients from well-known sweetie and cookie brands. Some ice-cream brands have partnered with coffee and chocolate brands to produce an ‘extreme premium’ product – Cadbury, Walls (Unilever), Kraft and Hershey’s have all followed this route.

New product trends have shown that many mainstream chocolate brands have extended their product renege to desserts, for example; Nestle milky bar white chocolate dessert and Cadburys Wispa dessert.

Low-fat, gluten-free, organic and digestive health are the main health positionings moving new product development forward within the dairy dessert sector. Therefore, the main area for potential growth is for more healthy desserts that combine benefits of both indulgences and health – better for you and with a taste appeal is a winning formula. Even though the majority of ice cream sales are regular fat products; many ice-cream and yoghurt manufacturers are continuing to diversify their products in order to fit into various lifestyles, such as reduced fat, fat-free, low carb, no added sugar and lactose-free. With consumers becoming more aware of how much fat they are consuming, these healthier products with high taste appeal are becoming increasingly popular. In particular, novelty and single-serving products are also an important part of this trend as many consumers prefer the pre-packed portion when counting calories and fat, as they then know exactly what they are taking in.

In regards to packaging, 58% of all chilled desserts are plastic pot, 12% plastic cup and 11% have a cardboard sleeve. Another common trend within the dairy dessert sector is lidding film which reduces the need for outer packaging sleeves by delivering enhanced product appeal.

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