Ice cream has a new hero: super-indulgent handheld treats. But can the category return to volume growth in 2013 by going posh?

It should have been a historic year for ice cream. Unfortunately, events – in the shape of the second- wettest year on record and commodity price hikes – cancelled out any uplift from the ‘summer of celebration’. While sales climbed 6.7% in value, this was primarily thanks to price inflation. Volumes fell 3.7% [Kantar Worldpanel 52 w/e 25 Nov 2012].

In the absence of an Olympics or Jubilee, we can expect to see even more brands push posh this year. “In cash-conscious times, consumers’ desire for indulgence means they are more likely to purchase luxury ice cream – it is seen as a low-cost, permissible treat,” reasons Matt Fulbrook, out of home sales director for Fredericks, licence holder for brands including Cadbury and Britvic.

Mini formats are also likely to gain ground as suppliers look to engineer price points and meet demand for smaller, ‘healthier’ portions. But will either of these trends be enough to restore ice cream to volume growth?…