Does Halo Top Deserve the Halo?


Let’s get this out on the page first – I am a huge fan of Halo Top.

halo top ice cream

Bursting onto the scene a year or so back, Halo Top was a breath of fresh air in the ice cream category. Interesting, indulgent flavours such as Peanut Butter or Caramel paired with a low calorie payload, I mean what’s not to like? Brash and loud, more playful and with more personality than Unilever’s Breyers, it genuinely made many in the category sit up and take notice. In conjunction with brands like Oppo and Whey Hey, its part of the new wave in ice cream.

It’s a good distribution and seems to have a sensible high:low pricing strategy oscillating between £3.00 and hovering around the £5 mark off deal. The value and volume numbers look pretty tasty too for a newcomer.

I always read the marketing copy on back and front of pack – for professional interest, personal curiosity and always on the look out for typo’s, flat notes in the melody of the brand story and downright marketing cheese.

However, over Christmas due to the festive season, I got to spend a little more time with the Halo Top packaging than I had before.  “Only 7.3g of sugar per serving, high protein and 320 calories per tub” screamed the Sea Salt Caramel front of pack, a very solid set of health claims.  

The back of pack was interesting, it leads with “lets not rush this…its worth the wait”. A little over dramatic, but all good so far. Then in the body of the back of pack text it reads “You might notice that your Halo Top sometimes freezes a little hard -and that’s a good thing !”. OK, fair enough I thought, reading on “One of the reasons is because we don’t use artificial sweeteners or softeners”.

Hmmm, thinking back to the good taste in the context of the 7.3g of sugar per serve claim. So I had a little look at the ingredient list.  After milk and eggs the third biggest ingredient is stated as sweetener (erythitol). Ummm.  Further on in the ingredient list there is emulsifier (vegetable glycerine), organic stabiliser (carob bean gum, guar gum), organic sweetener (steviol glucosides (stevia)).

So, lets get this straight, Halo Top are obeying the letter of the labelling law. They also make a fine tasting product which delivers indulgence without an excessive calorie load. However, to claim that one of the reasons the ice cream is hard is that it doesn’t have artificial sweeteners in it, is pretty tenuous when in fact there appears to be generous helpings of erythitol and stevia in the product.

The product certainly is sweetened and the area between ‘artificial’ and ‘non artificial’ sweeteners is a grey one. Of course there are pluses and minuses for all the sweeteners out there and a ranging ‘sugar v sweeteners’ nutritional debate.

I don’t mean to pick on Halo Top, in fact I am a fan. However, these sort of marketing claims are exactly the sort of misleading labelling that erodes trust in our food system. It breeds cynicism amongst shoppers and undermines genuine marketing claims. It also feeds the anger and confirms the beliefs of those who feel that tighter regulation is the only answer to the food and drink industry which they feel is incapable of policing itself.

So come on Halo Top, take some advice from a friend, be part of the solution by being straight with shoppers with your pack claims. You sweeten your tasty product with erythitol and stevia, it really is OK.

I’m sure your R&D teams are working on a better solution as we speak. Everyone in the trade knows it’s hard to optimise sweetness, mouth feel and yet achieve a clean ingredient declaration. 

Just be straight with shoppers about what’s in the pack, or we are just going to call you ‘Top’.

If you are interested in getting some marketing advice for your food or drink product, get in touch. Contact Hamish at [email protected] or call us on +44 (0) 1803 203387

To join our monthly newsletter click here!

Back to all