If your freezer is already bursting at the seams, trying to keep up with demand for handheld ice cream as well as ready meals and frozen peas, then stocking tubs probably isn't for you. However, if you have more than one freezer and want to appeal to customers looking for a complete meal on their way home from work, then ice cream tub desserts shouldn't be ignored.
While the dessert ice cream category is suffering in certain quarters, some sectors are bucking the trend. Overall, it's down in value 0.4% in 2006 on 2005, with family dessert ice cream down 13.3%, according to Walls IRI 2006, 52 weeks ending December 2006. However, premium dessert ice cream is seeing a slight growth at 0.4% in value and is the biggest sector of the dessert ice cream category at £138m value sales. Luxury dessert ice cream is up 13.6% in the same period, with a sales value of £96m.
Masterfoods trade relations manager Andrea Taylor says that larger c-stores, particularly those which offer DVD rental, could make more of the take-home market by stocking tubs. "By offering alternative eating occasions, where ice cream can be consumed outside the peak season, or if the weather is poor - convenience stores can extend the ice cream sales season."
According to Richmond Ice Cream marketing manager Claire McIntosh, top-end desserts are a particularly good proposition for c-stores: "There's certainly an opportunity here for convenience stores, especially with the two for £3 on-pack offer we have on tubs so that c-stores can compete on the same footing as supermarkets."
This year the company is extending its range with two new tubs - Nestlé Fab and Milkybar - in a bid to excite children. Fab features ice cream with jelly sauce and sprinkles, and the Milkybar ice cream is made with real Milkybar chocolate. Both join existing Smarties, Rolo and After Eight tubs.
General Mills sales director Andy Foweather is also positive about opportunities in the convenience sector. He says: "Independent retailers are ideally placed to exploit this opportunity as consumers tend to treat themselves on the spur of the moment."
The company is making one tub launch into the independent sector this year and it's new Häagen-Dazs flavour Summer Berries. The company is also introducing Häagen-Dazs Little Favourites, which include four of the best-selling flavours in a multipack of individual 100ml portions. The brand will spend £5m on marketing this year, including TV advertising.
Pots of gold
Feeding off the health associations with yogurt, Carte D'Or last year brought its first yogurt-based ice cream dessert to the market, and met much scepticism from some in the industry who thought the Greek Yoghurt & Honey ice cream dessert would be too niche for customers.
However, Carte D'Or brand manager Adrian Toomey says that the doubters have been found wanting and the variant has done so well it is being joined by a Carte D'Or Strawberry & Yoghurt Delice (rrp £2.79), which includes real strawberry sorbet and strawberry coulis in yogurt ice cream.
The makers are keen to emphasise the difference between frozen ice cream and frozen yogurt. According to Toomey, the dessert contains 30-35% ice cream along with the yogurt to give it its unique flavour.
Unilever plans to support the Carte D'Or brand with a £6.5m marketing campaign in 2007, including TV and press advertising from May. Sponsorship of the Carte D'Or Summer Proms & Smooth series will continue, as will sampling and national PR. It also plans to increase its online presence on food and recipe sites.
The Carte D'Or brand will be at the centre of Unilever's thrust to make ice cream a year-round product and NPD is expected for winter. Toomey hints that it may include dark chocolate and will be a flavour to suit the winter season.
As for the future of the brand, Toomey says the challenge now is to extend Carte D'Or out of the tub and out of ice cream: "Cadbury is a good example in that it has gone from chocolate into everywhere - hot drinks, ice cream, you name it."
However, not having had the best of luck with its chocolate eggs this year Cadbury must be hoping for a good result from the launch of Cadbury Creme Egg ice cream (rrp £2.49), manufactured by Fredericks Dairies. The ice cream is a limited edition, available until April.
Also new from Fredericks is the Del Monte Fruit Burst tubs. They play on the real fruit aspect so widely seen in ice cream npd this year; tubs have 50% real fruit, less than 2% fat and only 67 calories per serving. They are available in raspberry & peach and mango & pineapple and retail at £1.99 with an initial on-pack offer of two for £3 to drive trial.
Walls is hoping that the milk content of its Milk Time range will encourage mums to give it to kids as an afternoon snack treat. The range includes a new mono pot made with fresh milk ice cream and strawberry sauce, available in a multipack of four with a rrp of £1.79, and a milk ice cream stick with crunchy biscuit and a chocolate top, available in a six-pack with
a rrp of £1.79.
RICHMOND ICE CREAM has launched its latest Skinny Cow product: Skinny Cow Smooothies Sticks. The sticks are available in two flavours: Tropical Whirl with orange, mango, pineapple and banana with a tropical sauce; and Berry Blush featuring blackcurrant, strawberry, raspberry and banana with a blackcurrant sauce. Packs of four have a retail price of £2.29.
The Ribena range from Richmond is being extended with two new products: Ribena 80ml Blackcurrant push-ups available in four pack and part of the '£1 huge value' range; and an eight-pack of 55ml Ribena Blackcurrant sticks with a rrp of £1.99.
Masterfoods is hoping to appeal to mums and kids with the launch of Milky Way ice cream bars.
The bars are covered in real dairy milk and are available in six-packs. They retail at £2.49.
New to the Del Monte Fruitini range from Fredericks Dairies is a blackcurrant & apple flavour. The whole range has been repackaged to give more emphasis on the fruit credentials of the products. Eight-packs retail at £1.99.
Nestlé Fruitcrunch from Richmond is a bar which combines fruit purée and yogurt ice cream wrapped in a yogurt coating with crunchy oat pieces. The bar is available in raspberry, peach & passionfruit and strawberry flavours in packs of four with a retail price of £1.99.