Perfect World Dairy Free Ice Cream

It’s not just frozen yoghurt hitting the big time. After Gü founder James Averdieck bought a controlling interest in dairy-free ice cream brand Bessant & Drury last July, free-from ice cream is set to go mainstream too.

Averdieck says he plans to turn the pioneering coconut brand, which makes dairy, gluten and soya-free ice cream, into ‘the leading name in dairy-free’. He’s not the only one with big ambitions.

After taking over dairy and lactose-free frozen dessert brand Swedish Glace in January 2013, Unilever says its focus in 2014 will be to raise the profile of the soya-based brand, value sales of which are up 32%, it claims.

Smaller players are getting in on the act too. Ice cream substitute brand Perfect World enters the market on 17 March with four nut-based dairy and wheat-free ‘ice creams’ in flavours including Belgian Chocolate Brownie and Loads of Strawberry. They will be available in 500ml tubs (rsp: £4.49) and 120ml single-serves (rsp: £1.79) and contain natural sweeteners such as stevia.

“Research highlights that 30% of ice cream consumers would buy a product with added health benefits, but there is nothing to fill this gap in the market,” says Chris Conklin, co-founder of Perfect World Ice Cream, which is negotiating listings and plans to spend £150,000 on marketing in the first six months.

There is certainly demand from retailers. Dairy-free yoghurt brand CoYo extended its line-up to include its first coconut milk ‘ice cream’ in July 2013, and immediately won listings in Whole Foods Market. The four-strong range, which is lactose, gluten and egg-free, contains ingredients including vanilla & nutmeg, raw chocolate, natural and sticky date and tamarind (rsp: £6.99/500ml).

“TV documentaries such as Horizon’s Sugar v Fat are educating consumers about fats and sugars. The rising tides of Type 2 diabetes and child obesity are increasing people’s awareness of the food they’re putting into their bodies,” says Conklin.