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Chocolate dubbed No. 1 ice cream flavor in 2022

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A new survey found consumers are keen for chocolate ice cream, among other ice cream consumer and market trends.

Americans’ favorite ice cream flavor in 2022 is chocolate, according to a new ice cream trends survey by International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) in partnership with Research America, Inc. 

After chocolate, Americans prefer cookies n’ cream, followed by vanilla, strawberry and chocolate chip ice cream flavors, the survey found.  

The survey included 1,000 American consumers, as well as major national and regional ice cream makers and processors from IDFA’s membership and smaller scoop shops and retail ice cream makers from the North American Ice Cream Association.  

Ice cream makers and scoop shops reported different top flavors: Cookies n’ cream was the No. 1 flavor according to this group, followed by vanilla, chocolate, mint chocolate chip and strawberry. 

Compared to 2017, Americans haven’t branched out much when it comes to their favorite flavors. In 2017, chocolate, vanilla and cookies n’ cream also took the top three spots. In 2022, chocolate chip and strawberry were newcomers on the list of top five flavors. 

The survey also unveiled consumer buying preferences when it comes to the frozen treat.  

Almost three-fourths (74%) of Americans eat ice cream at least once a week, and 2 out of 3 enjoy ice cream as a nighttime treat. They also like to eat their ice cream at home; 84% of Americans purchase ice cream at the grocery store and eat it at home.  

Almost half of consumers buy ice cream by the half gallon versus and about a quarter (23%) who buy it by the pint. When it comes to ice cream novelty products, ice cream sandwiches top the list. Sandwiches are the most popular novelty product, preferred by 48% of consumers, followed by cones (21%) and sticks/pops (12%). 

The most popular way to eat ice cream is from a bowl, with 37% of Americans saying this is their method of choice—versus 32% who prefer waffle cones and 12% who opt for sugar cones. Chocolate sauce is the most popular sauce topping, while nuts and sprinkles are the preferred dry topping, and cookies are the most popular confection topping. Strawberries beat out bananas in the battle for top fruit topping, preferred by 48% of consumers versus 36%, respectively. 

When it comes to milkshakes, the data is slightly different. RTA Outdoor Living investigated Google Trends data from June 2021 to June 2022 to find what the most searched milkshake flavor was in each state. The winner, claiming the top spot in ten states, was strawberry. Chocolate was the first runner-up with the most searches in eight states. In third, with six states, was Oreo milkshakes. In a surprising turn, two states both had pineapple milkshakes as their most-searched variety: New York and Texas. 

Michael Dykes, president and CEO, IDFA, said in a press release that both ice cream production and consumption grew during the COVID-19 pandemic, and sales “continue to set a blazing pace at grocery, scoop shops and corner stores.” According to IDFA’s Dairy Delivers report, ice cream contributes $13.1 billion in economic impact, as well as nearly 29,000 jobs.  

According to ice cream makers, demand for non-dairy ice creams and plant-based ingredients is increasing. However, consumers ranked non-dairy products at the bottom of the list of ice cream and frozen dessert types they eat the most. Premium and regular ice cream comprise the lion’s share of the market, accounting for 80%, per ice cream makers. 

The survey found ice cream makers are paying attention to sustainability. Two-thirds of this group reported already using or planning to incorporate more sustainable packaging solutions. 

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