Guilt-free: Clean Labeling in Ice Cream

Although perennially popular, commercial ice cream has seldom been considered a clean label application. Ice cream products tend to employ non-clean-label ingredients: thickeners and stabilizers, anti-coagulants, emulsifiers, and artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners. From the base to inclusions and variegates, ice cream brands have frequently valued performance and sensory attributes over clean labels.

However, that is changing. Premium and super-premium brands are increasingly insisting on clean labels—their customers simply demand it. Nearly a fifth of recently surveyed consumers told researchers that they are buying less ice cream due to health concerns, and many of the items they perceived as unhealthy are those with less than clean labels. Consumers still happily buy products with full fat—in fact, those products are doing better than low- or no-fat options—but items that use high fructose corn syrup or other suspect ingredients face scrutiny.

If your creamery or ice cream brand needs to add clean label options, here are three ways to consider going about that.

1. Non-dairy

One of the fastest-growing segments of the ice cream and frozen novelties category is non-dairy applications, including products made with coconut and almond milk as well as gelato. Consumers seek these applications out for two reasons: due to perceptions that the products are healthier, and due to allergies or other dietary restrictions.

As more consumers go on elimination diets or are diagnosed with food allergies, these products are poised to grow into a major part of the industry. At Parker Products, we’re well versed in the needs of brands with allergen-free products, having been a peanut-free facility since 2012. Many of our products can support formulations designed to eliminate certain allergens or other items of consumer concern, from nut-free items to non-GMO and PHO-free items like our nut-free toffee or our non-GMO pralined soy nut.

2. Natural sweeteners

Natural sweeteners represent another area where ice cream brands can shorten their ingredient statements and attract consumer interest. Consumers widely perceive there to be significant health differences between common ice cream sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup and alternative options like honey, agave nectar, and maple sugar. Although these latter ingredients certainly involve more cost, often that cost can be passed on to the consumer due to an increase in the premium status of the product.

Sugar certainly still has its place in ice cream as well as at Parker, but for those brands that want to explore alternatives, we’re happy to oblige. We offer a number of clean label praline nuts and seeds along these lines, including honey glazed almonds, maple glazed pecans, and agave glazed quinoa.

3. Clean label inclusions and variegates

Cleaning up an ice cream label doesn’t just involve changing ingredients in the base; for anything but the most basic flavors, it also means identifying clean label inclusions and variegates to add the flavor that ice cream brands need. Many inclusions and variegates introduce artificial colors and other ingredients that a brand may be trying to eliminate from its ingredient statements. Fortunately, Parker Products is here to help with a large number of ingredients that possess claims including all-natural, PHO-free, non-GMO, and others.

Need help achieving a cleaner label? Get in touch and our product developers can help you find or create ingredients that will meet your needs for products with great sensory qualities and the health claims that consumers seek.