Despite a recessionary climate, U.S. sales of ice cream and related frozen desserts (including frozen yogurt and frozen novelties) increased 2 percent to reach $25 billion in 2009, saysPackaged Facts.

The New York, N.Y., market researcher just released its sixth study of the ice cream and frozen desserts sector. The piece is titled: Ice Cream and Frozen Desserts in the U.S.: Markets and Opportunities in Retail and Foodservice.

Interestingly, study authors note that the United States accounts for almost one-third of the total global market. 

Packaged Facts observes, "The frozen desserts business in America had been considered recession-proof based on its performance during previous downturns. But since the onset of the current downturn, both packaged frozen dessert marketers and foodservice operators have used a wide variety of discounts and deals to keep volume sales up and appeal to cost-conscious consumers.

"Sustaining such strategies is expected to be essential to the future of this mature market, which Packaged Facts forecasts will achieve sales of $27 billion by 2014."

Don Montuori is Packaged Facts publisher.

“The recession has raised consumer commitment to finding the best price/value balance in their frozen desserts. Manufacturers, retailers, and foodservice operators are all working to keep consumers happy by offering a wide assortment of deals,” he says. “At the same time, frozen desserts represent an opportunity for relatively inexpensive indulgence. Here again, marketers are offering bargains in order to keep volume flowing, and retailers are improving and upscaling their private label offerings.”

Marketers continue to launch new products that, Packaged Facts predicts, could influence a change in direction for the industry. Many of these products are targeted to socially conscious consumers and foodies, who share a desire for products that are simple and from identifiable sources, such as ingredients by local producers. Other new products are targeted to the Hispanic-American population, which is the fastest growing demographic segment, as well as to consumers who enjoy products with a “Latin” flavor.

At the same time that consumers are value hunting, they are also seeking products that can contribute to their health.  And though healthy products are nothing new in the frozen dessert category, the trend now focuses on products that have added ingredients, such as probiotics and Omega 3, that promote good health rather than products that have eliminated ingredients like fat and sugar.

Other ingredients being added to promote health include antioxidants, calcium, and Vitamin D.  Packaged Facts predicts the healthy aspects of yogurt culture that appeal to older and younger health-conscious consumers will cause the sales growth of frozen yogurt to outpace other frozen dessert categories through 2014.