More consumers are willing to try plant-based frozen desserts in store

According to Caddle, there's also a willingness to trial new products in conventional ice cream as well.

yellofruit-dessertMore Canadians are willing to give frozen desserts without milk or dairy a shot.

According to the latest data from Caddle’s insights panel, more than half of 3,340 consumers polled say they are more willing to trial one of these treats versus pre-pandemic, with 25% being “very likely,” and 30% “somewhat likely.”

But that hasn’t translated into regular purchases just yet. About 5% buy plant-based frozen desserts weekly, about 6% a few times a month, 8% monthly and 18% rarely. According to the numbers, 63% of consumers never buy these products.

Conventional ice cream consumption, meanwhile, has remained relatively constant during lockdowns.

According to a separate Caddle panel survey of approximately 8,900 Canadian consumers, 64% of respondents say there’s been no change to their consumption habits during lockdowns, with about 77% reporting that there will be no change in their ice cream buying habits post-COVID, either.

However, 38% have tried a new brand during lockdowns, which represents an opportunity for new category entrants, whether it’s conventional dairy brands such as Tim Hortons’ recently unveiled ice cream, or lesser known non-dairy challengers like Yellofruit.

Approximately 31% of consumers report buying ice cream monthly and 18% buy it “a few times a month” with 39% of purchases an impulse buy, versus 59% planned purchase.

For ice cream devotees, brand preference is actually shaping shopping behaviour.

For example, according to Caddle’s insights, if a favored brand is out of stock, about 47% of consumers will wait until the next shopping trip until it’s in freezer, with 18% reporting they would try sourcing it from another store. That compares with 35% of consumers who’d sooner switch brands in response to lack of availability.

The bulk of ice cream purchases (about 75%) are at grocers both mainstream and discount, Walmart and Costco, while drug stores have a 10% purchase share, with specialty and convenience channels having a 5% and 3% share.

Canadian milk and dairy prices have seen an increase – between 8.4 to 10 per cent, depending on the province, largely due to feed costs. And director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University Sylvain Charlebois warns that “major” increases are coming for the likes of dairy products like cheese, yogurt and ice cream.