I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream. Foodservice trends researcherTechnomic Inc., Chicago, says a love affair with ice cream is perhaps just as American as that most iconic of desserts, apple pie – or even more so given the frequency with which we indulge in the creamy treat.

Researchers say more than half of consumers in a recent survey said they eat vanilla ice cream at least once a month, and 46 percent said the same of chocolate. And although vanilla and chocolate dominate the ice cream category, there are a multitude of milkshakes, sundaes, frozen yogurts, sorbets, gelatos, and even tofu based non-dairy dessert flavors that each has a special place in the hearts of consumers.

Mary Chapman is a Technomic director.

“Complexity, customization, and portions are all very important," she says. "Operators need to differentiate their items from those offered by retailers, and they need to make the offerings available in various sizes to attract diners who are concerned with health, value, or who are simply too full to eat a large dessert.”

Chapman says Technomic's new "Market Intelligence Report: Ice Cream" mines Technomic’s exclusive consumer, menu and industry data to uncover insights and opportunities in frozen desserts and snacks.

Interesting report findings include:

Frozen yogurtconcepts occupy the top and bottom of the growth spectrum. All but one of the 10 fastest growing chains were frozen yogurt concepts, but other frozen yogurt chains experienced some of the largest declines within the top 500 chains.

Production of ice cream and frozen noveltiesin the retail sector is quite concentrated, with the top 10 manufacturers accounting for almost seventy percent of the total sales.
Frozen dessertscomprised 28.4 percent of all desserts on the menus tracked by Technomic during the first half of 2010.

Technomic says its new ice cream report  includes data from Technomic’s MenuMonitor online trend-tracking resource, which analyzes the menus of 1,200 of the top chains, emerging concepts and leading independent restaurants. The report also features consumer data culled from Technomic’s Consumer Trend Reports. Retail data and trends examine at-home consumption and point to potential away-from-home opportunities. Rounding out the data are operator examples, including the new products and hot concepts driving ice cream innovation.