Ice cream GettyImages-503082763

In a year that has seen Spam sales soar, an equally retro product has made a comeback in ice cream: Wall’s Twister. While Waitrose has reported a 36% rise in sales of the tinned meat brand, Twister has seen volumes increase 29.2%. That makes it the second-fastest growing product in the top 10 by units. Only Little Moons has grown faster in percentage terms – albeit from a smaller base.

The success of Twister, which made its UK debut in 1982, is illustrative of a larger trend in handheld ice cream. That is, a rise in family-friendly lines, as kids and parents cooled off over the scorching summer.

Other top 10 brands to have seen volumes spike include Cadbury Dairy Milk, up 27.2%, and Twister’s Unilever stablemates Cornetto and Calippo – up 8% and 18.7% respectively.

Unilever head of ice cream Jennifer Dyne attributes the performance to NPD such as Cornetto Tips and Cornetto Miniatures. “Our mini ice cream ranges mean shoppers can enjoy some of their favourite ice creams in smaller portions,” she says. For further growth, the supplier is banking on the ‘snackification’ trend, which has been “one of the fastest-growing segments within ice creams”.

Premium NPD and greater demand for snacks, which command higher prices per kilo than tubs, have seen handheld’s average price soar 13%. In turn, this has driven up the sector’s value 7.1%, with 17 of the top 20 in the black. Among them is Little Moons, ice cream’s runaway success of 2021. The mochi brand is worth another £7m in grocery as it continues its charge up the ranking.

Its fortunes – and those of its rival handheld brands – come in contrast to tub sales. The sector lost 6.6% of value on volumes down 10.6%, after Brits stopped stuffing their freezers. Several top players took big tumbles, including Ben & Jerry’s, Magnum, Carte D’Or and Häagen-Dazs. They’ve shed £26.7m between them.

But Häagen-Dazs head Jose Alves maintains the brand’s premium position will work to its advantage as budgets tighten. “Premium treats such as luxury branded ice cream are frequently considered for a big night in,” he says. “We’ll be helping retailers maximise the occasion by providing a range of flavours and formats to suit different tastes.” 

Top Launch 2022

Snacking Balls | Oppo


Following Little Moons’ lead, Oppo made its first foray into ice cream balls in May – albeit by eschewing a mochi dough outer layer in favour of Belgian milk chocolate. Launched in Salted Caramel in a tub of 12 (rsp: £4), Snacking Balls is HFSS-compliant, providing just 20kcals per ball. Plus, it’s the ideal format for home-workers, insists Oppo founder & MD Charlie Thuillier. “With the freezer now often only a few steps from your laptop, we thought it would be great to offer a bite-size treat.”

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