It’s National Ice Cream Day 2021, and no cows are allowed

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It’s National Ice Cream Day. In recent years, the meaning of ice cream has taken a turn, reflecting the changing food preferences of Americans. According to Gallup, while only 5% of US citizens are vegetarians or vegans, nearly 25% have reduced their meat consumption. Plus, 41% of Americans have tried plant-based meats. And it’s estimated that half of Americans buy dairy-free milk.

For this year’s National Ice Cream Day, grocery chains like Whole Foods are highlighting their dairy-free options alongside conventional ones, and for a reason. Plant-based ice cream is growing 26.5% year-on-year while its dairy counterparts are increasing 1%, based on SPINS data.

The category is estimated to reach $ 1 billion in sales by 2027. While it is currently a fraction of the overall ice cream and frozen dessert market, mainstream brands are taking note. Baskin Robbins launched oat milk-based ice cream at all of its locations in 2021. Unilever executive Matt Close reported an “explosion” in sales of non-dairy ice cream, but struggling to achieve consistency. ice cream. There is a flurry of R&D in the category by new entrants that put forward creative ingredients to achieve the consistency of ice cream and its nostalgic flavors.

Enter the challenger brands

Kailey Donewald, registered dietitian and certified holistic health coach, noticed changing consumer preferences years ago. She launched Chicago-based dairy-free ice cream company Sacred Serve in 2017 to bring a healthier alternative to the segment, starting with Whole Foods.

Donewald broke new ground on dairy-free flavors that evoke childhood favorites like chocolate and mint sprinkles, but with a twist. Using organic Thai young coconut meat as a base, her recipes incorporate superfoods, adaptogenic herbs, medicinal mushrooms, and low glycemic coconut sugar. For example, the new flavor of Sacred Serve, Cookies and Cream, does not have “cookies” or “cream” on the ingredient list. The tiger nuts and activated charcoal are at the heart of the recipe.

Donewald explains: “Tigernuts flour is the star of our new Cookies N Cream flavor. Tiger nuts are incredibly unique because they are not a nut at all, but a root vegetable. They contain important vitamins and minerals, are gluten-free, paleo-friendly, and high in prebiotic fiber which is great for the gut. Thanks to their natural sweetness, I knew they would be the perfect flour substitute for our cookies. Activated charcoal, a fine powder made from coconut husks, is a known detoxifying agent used to trap toxins and gases in the gut, preventing their absorption and helping your body eliminate them. We have found it to lend itself to the perfect “oreo” taste. And just like that, Cookies N Cream – without cookies or cream – was born.

Taking a different approach to ingredients, Brave Robot makes dairy-free ice cream from whey protein to mimic the creaminess of traditional ice cream, resulting in a vegan product that is lactose-free. According to The Spoon, the company “manufactures its dairy products by genetically modifying the microflora to produce the two main proteins in milk: casein and whey. They combine dried protein with vegetable fats, water, vitamins, and minerals to create a lactose-free product that has the same properties – taste, consistency, and nutritional breakdown – as milk.

Both companies place a strong emphasis on sustainability in their ingredient supply chain. Sacred Serve was the first to achieve 100% recyclable, plastic-free packaging, a feat that giants like Unilever have yet to achieve.

A lucrative category

The $ 10 billion IPO of oat-based dairy company Oatly took place earlier this year, following the IPO of plant-based meat giant Beyond Meat in 2019. On the mergers and acquisitions front, earlier this year Human Co announced a controlling stake in Coconut Bliss – a dairy-free ice cream company – with undisclosed terms. And in March 2021, plant-based egg company Eat Just landed $ 200 million in a round led by the Qatar Investment Authority.

Pitchbook News analysts are monitoring the plant-based alternative food category, calling it both “pandemic and recession proof.” Food tech startups had raised nearly $ 16 billion in the first quarter of 2021, almost exceeding the total amount raised in 2020.

Donewald is not surprised. She concluded: “Now more than ever, consumers are looking at products from a health and wellness perspective, especially after the pandemic. Herbal plants have garnered a lot of attention because they are better for you and the environment, so more and more consumers are looking to make the switch.



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