Six Frozen Dessert Trends You’ll Want In On

Kate Bohnert
Marketing Specialist

Don't wait! Book your FeatureFlavors demo today!Looking for new and eye-catching ice cream concepts? We can help with that! You're the reason we create new ice cream flavors as part of our annual Feature Flavors program, and have been doing it for over 10 years! We’re here to help you create delicious, new frozen dessert concepts that your customers can’t resist.

Our marketing and R&D teams have been researching the trends, brainstorming, developing, tasting (it’s a tough job…) and tweaking these concepts to perfection for much of the year, and it’s almost time to announce the 2018 Feature Flavors. Get an email alert when we announce the line-up!

Based on consumer buying patterns, demographics and flavor trends, we’ve created complete concepts that are perfect for any ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt, sherbet and sorbet application. Experience our creative expertise in:

We feel these concepts highlight our strongest capabilities in the frozen desserts market and best fit into the trends we’re seeing pop up in the freezer aisles.

General Flavor Trends in Frozen Desserts & Ice Creams

The chart below shows Dessert & Ice Cream total product launches from Dec 2013 – Dec 2016 in North and South America, and the flavor categories those frozen desserts fall into. According to Innova Market Insights, the largest category is “Brown Flavors” (which includes coffee, caramel, chocolate, maple, etc.), but “Fruit” follows closely behind. The fruit category includes exotic fruits such as Coconut, Papaya, Mango and Guava, as well as superfruits, berries, melon flavors, tropical fruits and citrus flavors.

Flavor categories in new products launched Dec 2013 - Dec 2016 YTD

CHART: Flavor Trends Categories Dec 2013  Dec 2016

While many of the top flavors launched in the frozen dessert category remain the same, mainstream chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, caramel and variations of these, there are many new, eye-catching flavors mixing it up in the freezer aisles. Adventurous eaters seem to enjoy flavor influences from all over the world, including exotic fruits and spices, which are some of the main categories that influenced our upcoming Feature Flavors concepts. Check out the chart below for some of the top emerging flavors, globally.

Fastest-growing global ice cream and frozen dessert flavors 2012-2016 YTD

CHART: Fastest-growing global ice cream and frozen dessert flavors 2012-2016 YTD

2018 Feature Flavors line-up macro flavor trends:


Chefs say the biggest trend in desserts is house-made and artisan ice creams. Flavors that are taken from a traditional context and being mixed up to create inventive flavors are new and daring, yet familiar. A relatively easy way to give guests something they can’t get anyplace else is by using locally inspired dessert flavors as well as whiskey and beer brews. Even though alcoholic beverage flavors are still a very small niche, the number of products with craft brew flavors continue to rise.

Product Launches that are considered Artisanal, have a local influence, or boozy flavors

Ben & Jerry's Salted caramel Brown-ie Ale
Ben And Jerrys
New Belgium Salted Caramel Brown-Ie Ale

(Jan 2016, United States)
  Cool Moon Blegian Chocolate Ice Cream
Cool Moon
Belgian Chocolate

(Nov 2016, United States)
  Lunds And Byerlys Artisan Bourbon Brown Butter Pecan Gelato
Lunds And Byerlys
Artisan Bourbon Brown Butter Pecan

(Sept 2016, United States)
  Oregon Hazelnut Chocolate
Tillamook Farmstyle
Oregon Hazelnut Chocolate

(May 2016, United States)


Limited-edition/limited-time offerings allow for unique spins on seasonal flavors or other special edition offerings that create an urgency to purchase. New, different and reimagined concepts in ice cream can create marketing buzz. Such seasonal products invite consumers to try something new, that's only in the freezer – or in the ice cream shop – for a short period of time.

Seasonal, limited time or limited edition product launch examples:

Tillamook Pumpkin Cookie Butter
Tillamook Special Batch Ice Cream
Pumpkin Cookie Butter

(Oct 2016, United States)
  Velvet Peppermint Stick
Velvet Ice Cream
Seasonal Favorite Peppermint Stick

(Apr 2016, United States)
  La Bolita Fruit Cake
La Bolita Helado
Artesanal Fruit Cake

(Jan 2016, Mexico)
Turkey Hill
Campfire S'mores

(Jun 2016, United States)


Adventurous eaters are looking for opportunities to experience new taste sensations from around the world. Bringing something familiar, like a flower, into a new context can be fun for the taste buds. Some new concepts we've seen 'blooming' in the freezer aisles include various tropical fruit flavors and some fascinating floral flavors, such as lavender, lotus, jasmine and rose.

Products launched with exotic fruits & flower flavors

Selva Nevada Helado Artesanal Sorbete Gulupa Purple Passion Fruit Artisan Ice Cream
Selva Nevada Helado Artesanal
Purple Passion Fruit Artisan Ice Cream

(May 2016, Colombia)
  Jenis Ylang Ylang And Fennel Ice Cream
Ylang Ylang And Fennel Ice Cream

(Jul 2016, United States)
  Yeti Frozen Custard Lemon Lavender
Yeti Frozen Custard
Lemon Lavender

(Jan 2016, United States)


Global flavors are making their way onto menus of all types, from high end restaurants to food trucks. With a variety of worldly flavor choices popping up everywhere, adventure-seeking consumers are stepping out of their food comfort zones to try new things. Italian, Mexican, Thai and Brazilian influences are popular on the culinary scene and no are longer 'foreign' flavors. As such, consumers are more open to trying out ethnic flavors in search of new favorites.

Globally, there's been a large increase of frozen desserts launched with an ethnic flavor profile in the past five years, especially 2016. See the charts below.

New frozen dessert product launches that have ethnic flavors:

Ethnic flavors tracked
in Frozen Desserts & Ice-Cream Global 2012-2016 YTD

CHART: Ice cream flavors launched with ethnic flavor profiles

Thai Curry
Thai Curry Pumpkin Ice Cream

(Apr 2016, United States)
  Trader Joes Mango MangoMochi Sorbet
Trader Joes
Mango Mango Mochi Sorbet

(July 2016, United States)
   Archer Farms Tiramisu Gelato
Archer Farms
Tiramisu Gelato

(Jan 2016, United States)


Smoking’s not just trendy in savory foods and drinks; desserts augmented with a bit of earthy smoke are also in vogue. We’ve seen product examples that showcase BBQ flavor variations and specific smoked ingredients such as bourbon, chocolate, almonds and cherries.

Products highlighting smoked or toasted flavors

Jenis Xocorosa Ice Cream
Jenis Xocorosa Ice Cream
(November 2016, United States)
  Haagen Dazs Artisan Collection Applewood Smoked Caramel Almond Ice Cream
Haagen Dazs Artisan Collection
Applewood Smoked Caramel Almond

(Feb 2015, United States)
  Blue Bunny Ice Cream Toasted Almond Fudge
Blue Bunny Ice Cream
Toasted Almond Fudge

(Mar 2016, United States)


Consumers are looking for minimal ingredients that are easy to pronounce, that are considered "clean." "Natural" and "Organic" are popping up more and more on packages. Some shoppers are even going so far as to look for transparency, right down to the packaging. A minimal ingredients list and transparent packaging of a product makes buyers believe these products to be healthy. Speaking of healthy, we can’t wait for you to try our new concept that contains minerals, natural colors & flavors and a full serving of fruit! Healthy ice cream? We think so.

New products that are considered "clean label" and/or have transparent packaging:

 Simply RoundysNatural AllNatural Fruit Bars: Strawberry Colada
Simply Roundys
Natural All Natural Fruit Bars:
Strawberry Colada

(Oct 2016, United States)
  Blue Bunny Vanilla Bean
Blue Bunny
Vanilla Bean

(Jan 2016, United States)
   Luna And Larry's Organic Coconut Bliss Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert: Summer Berry Swirl
Luna And Larry's
Organic Coconut Bliss Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert: Summer Berry Swirl

(Nov 2016, United States)

Other key flavor categories

While many of our 2018 Feature Flavor concepts fit nicely into several of the current trending categories above, we’ve created other concepts that fall in-line with mainstream flavor categories. Some of these categories include:

  1. Nostalgia/comfort: Modern twists on nostalgic flavors re-create comforting tastes and memories of a person’s youth. These items convey the comfort and past memories for consumers with mentions of “grandma's kitchen” and “put-your-feet-up” comfort food.
  2. Kid-focused: (candy/confectionery inspirations, cotton candy, sour flavors, bright & colorful)
  3. Savory & spicy ingredients: flavors that would seem unusual to ice cream (taco flavors, avocado, and some ‘out there’ flavors such as turkey and gravy)

Here are some examples:

 Baskin Robbins Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream
Baskin Robbins
Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream

(Apr 2016, United States)
  Crayoloa ice cream
Crayola Color Me Sundae

(Jun 2016, United States)
  Brown Butter Candied Bacon
Coolhaus Louis Ba-Kahn Chocolate Chip Cookie+ Brown Butter Candied Bacon Ice Cream
(Jul 2016, United States)

Be the first to know

Stay tuned for the line-up announcement we’ll be making February. In the meantime, you’ve seen last year’s concept list, right?

Book your demo early

Be one of the first to see the Feature Flavors line-ups by booking a demo today! Contact Jeff Borchers, Business Director, Flavor Systems: 314.888.6981

Kate Bohenrt

Kate Bohnert

Marketing Specialist
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