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Ingredients suppliers meet new frozen dessert formulation needs

These days, terms such as keto, paleo, high-protein, plant-based, vegan — even “pegan” (paleo-plus-vegan) — describe not just diets but entire lifestyles. So you’d think that a decadent space such as the frozen dessert aisle would be a lonely patch. With everyone going free from everything, how much room could there be in the cart for ice cream and ice cream cake?

Imagine what happens when you start to cut sugar, as many dessert developers are. Sugar plays critical roles in frozen dairy, only one of which is providing sweetness. Sugar influences texture and melt rate, manages formulation water, contributes bulk and body — and perhaps most crucially, depresses an ice cream’s freezing point. The lower that freezing point, the softer and more scoopable an ice cream’s texture. Dissolved solids — sugar being the principal one — depress that freezing point in direct proportion to their presence in the mix: the more solids, the lower the point at which the ice cream freezes.

Perhaps as inescapable in frozen desserts as sugar reduction are plant-based formulations. SPINS, Chicago, reported that sales of plant-based ice creams and frozen novelties grew 66.7% from April 2017 through April 2019. But rather than going all-in on plant-based formulation, some experts suggest following flexitarians’ lead and capitalizing on the best of both worlds.

Pops of color are growing ever more important, too, as more of our lives, including our dessert choices, play out visually on social media. “There’s no denying social media’s impact on consumers’ lives today, and the extremely visual Instagrammable food trend continues to surge.” says Meghan Fox, marketing specialist for Sensient Colors, St. Louis. Sensient offers a range of colorful inclusions, including flecks “to create a funfetti appearance,” and pearlescent pigments that add “shimmer for a glittery effects,” she said.

Botanically based ingredients actually are gaining traction across many categories, including frozen desserts.

“A popular ice cream maker has launched a floral collection of ice creams in Europe with distinctive flavors like elderflower and cherry blossom, and you can already find flavors like lavender and jasmine at scoop shops in the U.S.,” noted Keera Perumbala, marketing manager for Sensient Flavors, Hoffman Estates, Ill.

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