If price inflation has shoppers hot under the collar, they are probably better off reaching for an iced lolly than a tub of ice cream.
Over the past two years, the average litre price in the total ice cream category, including tubs and handheld products, has risen by 6.6% to £5.67.
But strip out the iced lollies and choc ices, and the picture looks very different. The Grocer’s analysis of BrandView data shows the average volume price of dessert ice cream has rocketed 20.4% in 24 months, from an average of £4.31 a litre on 23 April 2011 to £5.19 on the same date in 2013.
Much of this growth has been driven by a combination of commodity cost increases and value-adding branded and own-label NPD such as the Ben & Jerry’s Core range with sauce centres that was launched just over a year ago, and the not-dissimilar Häagen-Dazs Secret Sensations. The average price of a litre of branded dessert ice cream rose 17.5% in two years from £4.74 to £5.57, while the average price of a litre of own-label products increased 20.5% from £3.11 to £3.75.
Prawn and salmon prices leap
Prawn prices have soared due to tight global supply. The total allowable catch for coldwater prawn is just 90,000t this year - down 14% from 105,000t in 2012. As a result, prices are up 72.1% year-on-year, and have risen 8.2% to £6,439/t over the past month.
Salmon prices are also on the march, rising nearly 40% over the past 12 months and 5.3% month-on-month due to fishmeal becoming more expensive. And poor catches in the Western and Central Pacific have caused supplies of skipjack tuna to tighten, with prices rising 18.2% year-on-year and 6.2% month-on-month.
Weaker supply has also caused year-on-year price rises for sardines, but prices have eased in the past four weeks - falling 0.9% to £2,598/t - as catches improved slightly.
Whiting- like many other white fish - is cheaper than last year thanks to good supply: prices are down 23.3% year-on-year.
It is likely the popularity of smaller and single-serve pots has also played a part in pushing up overall tub prices. The average unit price of a 500ml tub - a standard size for premium ice cream - has risen just 7% to £3.71 compared with the 18% hike in tubs below 200ml to an average of £1.83.
In handheld ice cream - where NPD has arguably been less prevalent than in tubs, and products less affected by some of the commodity cost hikes - the average price has crept up just 2% in the past two years. The volume price of single iced lollies has fallen 8.5% over the period to £10.82, while that of multipacks has risen 3% to £5.83. Price increases have been driven by branded lines, which grew 2% on average to £6.99, while the average volume price on an own-label handheld product dropped 12% to £4.79.
The 6% price increase in the total ice cream category has been driven by the branded products that make up roughly two-thirds of the market by value, with the volume price of branded ice cream lines up 7.7% in two years to £6.15.
Over the same period, the average own-label volume price has risen just 1% to £4.12, but there appears to be huge differences in the way the retailers have developed their own-label offers - with three of the top five supermarkets showing sharp hikes in the average price, against declines at two rivals.
The average litre price at Sainsbury’s soared 42% to £4.67 the typical price at Tesco - which launched the exclusive premium Chokablok ice cream range in summer 2011 - soared 35% to £3.63 while prices also rose 35% to Morrisons in two years, from £1.80 to £2.43.
In the same period, the average price of own-label ice cream fell 10% at Asda to £2.99, while at Waitrose it fell 13% to £6.65.