Mochi ice cream

Source: Pexels

Behold the power of TikTok. Having gone viral on the social platform this year, Little Moons has added an extra £17.6m in value sales – from a base of just under £2m. That’s 894.2% growth, the biggest rise of any well-established brand in the Top Products Survey, let alone ice cream.

Initially launched into foodservice in 2010, the mochi balls are an ice cream format like no other. “There hasn’t historically been that much innovation in the category,” says brand founder Howard Wong. “It’s always been tubs, sticks and cones. The retailers are really backing us.”

Little Moons won its first listing in 2015, but a social media craze inspired by a Tesco customer posting on TikTok earlier this year was to prove a tipping point for the brand. It picked up a host of new listings, while the discounters launched alternatives.

As to the wider handheld ice cream market, it’s up by £54.5m, with eye-catching gains for several Unilever brands including Magnum, Cornetto and Ben & Jerry’s. The trio has added a combined £28.3m over the past 12 months.


That success was down to a raft of NPD, says Unilever ice cream brand experience director Horácio Cal – from Magnum’s “luxurious” Double Gold Caramel Billionaire to Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough Peace Pop and Cornetto’s Soft lineup (see Top Launch, below).

By comparison, Unilever’s main ice cream rival, Froneri, has been quiet on the innovation front. But it’s still seen a £6.2m gain across its handheld portfolio, with volume sales up 6.4%.

It’s a different story in tubs, however, where units have fallen. That was driven by own label losses of 12.5% following disappointing summer weather. Not even a 4.8% rise for brands, as Brits favoured familiar names such as Ben & Jerry’s (up £10.6m), was enough to avoid an overall 3.2% decline in volumes.

Still, price has helped save value. Ice cream tubs are 4% more expensive year on year, thanks to lower promotion levels. Further inflation looks certain next year amid soaring costs, and new HFSS promo restrictions will also come into force.

That could make shifting volumes even harder – so brands will have to think of new ways to grab shopper attention.

Top Launch 2021

Wall’s Cornetto Soft | Unilever

cornetto web

Ice cream vans were a rare sight during Covid restrictions. So, Wall’s made sure shoppers could get a Mr Whippy-esque fix. This velvety version of Cornetto can be served straight from the freezer thanks to high-tech innovation, which ensures the ice cream remains soft “even at –18°C” says the supplier. The range, added in February, comprises Salted Caramel, Strawberry and Chocolatey (rsps: £1.60/140ml & £3/4x140ml). Each  is served in a wafer cone with Cornetto’s “iconic” chocolate tip.

The Grocer’s Top Products Survey 2021: who’s up, who’s down – and our overview of the key trends