The day has been designated National Ice Cream Day. Changing dietary preferences have affected the meaning of ice cream in recent years. Nearly 25% of US citizens have cut back on eating meat, according to Gallup. In addition, 41% of Americans consume plant-based meats. The number of Americans buying dairy-free milk is estimated to be around half.
The dairy free choices at Whole Foods are being highlighted alongside conventional choices for National Ice Cream Day this year, and for a good reason too. Using SPINS data, plant-based ice creams have grown 26.56% YoY, while dairy-based ice creams have grown only 1%.
By 2027, sales in this category are expected to reach $1BN. Although that represents only a small percentage of the overall ice cream and frozen dessert market, mainstream brands are taking notice. In 2021, ice cream based on oat milk will be available at all Baskin Robbins locations. Despite a large increase in the sale of non-dairy ice cream, Unilever executive Matt Close said the consistency of the product was difficult. Currently, a flurry of R&D is underway by new players who are using creative ingredients to achieve ice cream’s consistency and nostalgic flavors.
A lucrative category
Earlier this year, oatmeal milk company Oatly’s $10BN IPO hit, following plant-based meat giant Beyond Meat’s IPO earlier this year. A dairy-free ice cream company called Coconut Bliss announced earlier this year that Human Co had acquired a majority stake for undisclosed terms. In March 2021, the Qatar Investment Authority led a $200 million round for plant-based egg company Eat Just.
Plant-based alternative food startups in the first quarter of 2021 had raised nearly $16 billion, surpassing the amount raised in 2020. Analysts at Pitchbook News describe it as both pandemic and recession-proof.
Donewald is unsurprised. After the pandemic, consumers consider health and wellness when choosing products more than ever before. More consumers are making the switch to plant-based products because they are healthier and more environmentally friendly.