Demand for ice cream usually ramps up with the onset of summer’s warmer weather, and grocers can further leverage the opportunities created by National Ice Cream Month in July.
But ice cream truly is an anytime treat, and ice cream makers — among them supermarket retailers with their own dairy-manufacturing operations — launch new and limited-edition flavors all year round.
Case in point: Publix Super Markets, which offered shoppers its Premium Limited Edition Caramel Turtle Cheesecake Ice Cream during the first four months of 2015. Publix, based in Lakeland, Fla., where the climate is almost always ice cream-friendly, last month released Caramel Coast Getaway Ice Cream through August, and plans to offer Mountain Tracks Ice Cream from September through December.
“In February, we introduced Publix GreenWise Organic Sea Salt Caramel Ice Cream, and it is doing well,” says Publix Director of Media and Community Relations Maria Brous. “While vanilla still tops the best-selling category, caramel — and especially sea salt caramel — continues to be a hot trend this year.” In its year-round offerings, Publix offers a dulce de leche flavor in both its premium ice cream and frozen yogurt lines.
The grocer doesn’t take a casual approach to ice cream, and its efforts attract attention beyond its stores’ aisles. For instance, its Black Swamp Raspberry Cheesecake, a blend of slightly tart raspberries and rich cheesecake, earned third place among the nominees in the International Dairy Foods Association’s Innovative Ice Cream Flavor Competition at the trade group’s recent annual Ice Cream Technology Conference, in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“Publix has a cross-functional team, composed of category management, manufacturing, marketing and corporate quality assurance, who evaluate trends and taste-test more than 50 flavor concepts,” Brous explains. “Category management takes into consideration the feedback from these sessions, as well as sales performance of the ice cream category, as they develop the ice cream plan for the following year.”
Moving into July, Publix will have a banner product, Chocolate Fudgy Brownie Frozen Yogurt, that will receive in-store signage, clings, radio and TV spots, as well as product sampling in-store; the new Organic Sea Salt Caramel Ice Cream will also receive in-store support.
Other ice cream makers will take advantage of retail promotion programs offered by industry groups.
As a member of the National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA), in Harrisburg, Pa., Cincinnati-based Graeter’s Ice Cream will participate in the annual 2015 Summer Favorites Promotion. In partnership with major U.S. grocers, the program encourages retailers to fill up their freezer cases and enlist the help of public relations, marketing and enticing in-store displays to boost sales of frozen treats during the months of June and July.
“We work with major retailers as they stock their freezers and execute in-store campaigns in an effort to win the prestigious Golden Penguin Award offered by the NFRA,” says George Denman, Graeter’s VP of sales and marketing. “This year, we plan on increasing our efforts and have campaigns lined up with Kroger, Costco, Harris Teeter and Giant Eagle.
“We work hand in hand with each of our retailers, having established strong relationships with the appropriate customer development managers, who collaborate with and help us to achieve our goals while managing the retailer’s needs,” he adds.
Retailers, sales agents, manufacturers and local associations can enter their creative in-store displays in NFRA’s Retail Display Contest. The nine-week promotion must feature multiple ice cream and novelty products from sponsoring brands. Gold and Silver Penguins will be awarded in six regions — Northeast, Southeast, East Central, West Central, Southwest and Pacific/Western — with winners recognized in October during the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Convention, in Dallas.
Among NFRA programs, a Summer Favorites VIP Coupon and Freezer Giveaway offer consumers special prizes designed to pique interest and drive increased traffic to grocers’ ice cream and novelty aisles.
Springing Into July
Los Angeles-based Halo Top Creamery — which bills itself as the first 100 percent natural light ice cream — will offer a number of BOGOs and other price reductions at retailers across the nation during National Ice Cream Month.
With three new flavors joining the lineup (Mint Chip, Chocolate Mocha Chip and Birthday Cake), Halo Top is non-GMO, low in calories and sugar, high in protein and fiber, and free of gluten, trans fat, gelatin, corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and synthetic growth hormones. The brand’s labeling boldly proclaims the calorie count for the full pint (containing four servings), which tops out at 280 for the new releases.
Meanwhile, the makers of ProYo High Protein Frozen Yogurt are using July “as a springboard to kick of a massive sampling campaign and mobile tour,” says Nathan Carey, president and founder of the Santa Barbara, Calif.-based brand. “The purpose of the tour is to redefine what a healthy dessert looks like in the marketplace.”
ProYo positions itself as having the same creamy texture and taste of ice cream, but with 20 grams of protein, and less fat and sugar.
Protein is pushing its way into other frozen desserts as well.
One example is Greens Farms, Conn.-based Figo Brands, marketer of Forte, an authentic creamy gelato that also claims to be the first high-protein, low-fat product of its type. Each 4-fluid-ounce single-serve portioned cup delivers 15 grams of protein and 2.5 grams of fat, at 160 calories. The protein boost comes from added milk proteins.
Now joining the chocolate and vanilla varieties, which debuted about three years ago, are espresso and ginger. Forte uses pure organic Madagascar bourbon vanilla, brewed espresso, organic ginger, and its own select blend of rich cocoa from Holland.
At its base, Forte is made with skim milk and cream from cows not treated with synthetic growth hormones, cage-free egg yolks and organic agave nectar.
“We work hand in hand with each of our retailers, having established strong relationships with the appropriate customer development managers, who collaborate with and help us to achieve our goals while managing the retailer’s needs.”
—George Denman, Graeter’s