As the global plant-based ice cream market continues to grow in scale and diversity, we take a closer look at the US plant-based ice cream landscape, considered the “most advanced and dynamic” in the world.
“The future of plant-based ice cream looks promising”
The analysis below is part of research by Future Grocery Shopping (FGS), an Amsterdam-based research startup that develops insights in upcoming alternative food solutions, such as plant-based and cell-based food. Founded by Sew Ritoe and Herbert Frühling, the company has the ambition to become a leading player within these fields. The founders previously worked for leading companies in Tech, FMCG and Media and are dedicated to use and further develop state-of-the-art research solutions for the alternative and plant-based food industry.
In its comprehensive landscape report, FGS assessed 335 products made by 65 brands. The firm notes the global plant-based ice market has witnessed significant growth in recent years, driven by increased consumer concerns for health, sustainability, and animal welfare.
The dairy-free ice cream market will reach a value of US $1.7 billion in 2023 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10% from 2023-2033, reaching a value of US $4.3 billion in 2033, reports Future Market Insights. By comparison, the overall ice cream market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of about 4.5% during the same period.
Most popular ingredients
When assessing various ingredients used in plant-based ice cream, FGS found that coconut oil is the most commonly used fat, with a presence in 55% of brands. Among plant-based milks, coconut milk (49%) and oat milk (27%) were the most common milks, likely due to the creamy texture they provide. Almond (17%) and cashew milk (9%) were the top nut-based options.
Since plant-based milk doesn’t contain lactose, the natural sugar found in dairy, alternative sweeteners like cane sugar and tapioca syrup are typically used. Plant protein is also an important ingredient that contributes to a product’s nutrition and texture, and analysts found 70% of plant-based ice creams in its study used pea protein.
The study also identified the major companies and brands that now offer plant-based ice cream in the US and arranged them into four categories:
- Artisanal ice cream makers – Companies that began as small boutiques before expanding to retail. (Hudsonville Ice Cream, Oregon Ice Cream Company)
- Vegan/ plant-based – Speciality companies focused solely on plant-based ice cream. (NadaMoo!, Brave Robot, Craig’s Vegan, Wicked Kitchen)
- Supermarkets – Retailer brands that have introduced plant-based ice creams through private labels. (H-E-B Select Ingredients, Favorite Day by Target, and 365 Everyday Value by Whole Foods Market)
- Major international companies – Established brands that have recognized the opportunity of plant-based ice cream products. (Oatly, Unilever, So Delicious [owned by Danone], Daiya and Häagen-Dazs)
As the plant-based ice cream market continues to evolve in the US and beyond, FGS is highly optimistic about its future prospects and anticipates increased innovation.
“As the plant-based ice cream landscape continues to evolve, we anticipate further innovation, flavors, and textures that will captivate consumers and satisfy their desire for healthier, more sustainable frozen treats,” the researchers state. “The future of plant-based ice cream looks promising, providing consumers with guilt-free indulgence while contributing to a more compassionate and environmentally friendly food industry.”plant-based oatly nadamoo ice cream milk cream protein dairy-free alternative dairy cell-based industry startup