How did supermarket ice cream sales perform?

Which supermarket ice cream brands sales were licked in 2023?

Mackie’s has scooped the top prize in ice cream tubs. It’s grown volumes 10.5% – the only gain in the sector’s top 15 aside from the 0.2% rise for Swedish Glace. 

The Scottish brand “won consumers over” by keeping prices lower than its competitors, says MD Stuart Common. Indeed, the average price per litre of Mackie’s is £2.72 – 12.4% cheaper than next biggest rival Kelly’s, and 57.2% cheaper than brands overall.

Mackie’s competitive price point meant it was “less threatened by own label than its competitors”, explains Common.

Unilever’s varied 2023 ice cream sales

For other brands, private label has been a serious threat. “With the broad own label offering copying the top brands while maintaining low price points, they steal share from their branded counterparts,” says Magda Markowska, NIQ insights team manager.

Hence volume declines for the likes of Ben & Jerry’s and Carte D’Or. Unilever’s powerhouse duo are down 2.3 million litres in total.

To revive fortunes, the supplier is working to make ice cream a year-round indulgence – adding innovations such as Ben & Jerry’s Sundae Dulce De-lish.

“We’re here to help retailers tap the opportunity to de-seasonalise ice cream occasions,” says Jennifer Dyne, head of ice cream at Unilever. “Once considered a product to be enjoyed on a summer’s day, we’re continuing to see the ice cream occasion evolve based on people’s changing lifestyles, such as being part of a late-night treat.”

Häagen-Dazs’ 2023 performance mixed

It’s also an affordable treat, stresses Häagen-Dazs. “Though the rising cost of living is having a considerable impact on spending, shoppers are still looking to spend their money on affordable luxuries and treats that give them little lifts,” a spokeswoman says.

For Häagen-Dazs, this trend has kept its volume decline in tubs to 5%, behind the overall sector’s 8.9%. But the brand’s handheld lines haven’t been so lucky. They’ve dived 17.2% in a market down 13.9%.

“Implementation of HFSS legislation paired with increased cost of living were two major factors of shrinking volumes in ice cream,” sums up NIQ’s Markowska. “With limited off-shelf space in frozen, retailers decided to prioritise better-performing categories, such as frozen chips.”

Top Launch 2023

Refreshos | Little Moons

Refreshos_Duo_Floating_1 (1)

Little Moons unveiled its first sorbet product in January: Refreshos. Touted as a “first-to-market mochi sorbet”, the frozen snack debuted in Asda with Very Berry and Pineapple & Mandarin (rsp: £4.80/6x32g) – both made with the brand’s signature mochi dough. They’re HFSS-compliant, vegan and gluten-free, providing fewer than 59 kcals per ball. “We’re constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation,” says Little Moons co-founder Howard Wong.

Face off: Top Products Survey 2023 pits brands vs own-label