Subscribe Login

The Inside Scoop On Ice Cream Sales In Ireland

By Donna Ahern
The Inside Scoop On Ice Cream Sales In Ireland

Ice cream consumption is set to soar as consumers seek respite from summer heat. Donna Ahern reports.

As the countdown to summer begins, the nation’s favourite dessert – ice cream – is repositioning itself as a seasonal essential.

Ice cream has always been associated with indulgence and research over the years has shown that it remains Irish consumers’ dessert of choice. However, as we all know, ice cream sales are weather-dependent.

Ice cream is synonymous with summer, so fine weather is crucial for sales.

Following the end of lockdown restrictions in 2021, value sales of ice cream recovered swiftly, according to the latest ice cream report from Euromonitor International.

It states that 2022 was another strong year, with impulse ice cream outperforming take-home ice cream, in retail volume and in current value terms, as consumers made more spontaneous purchases from kiosks and shops.

According to the Euromonitor report, as a result of the increase in demand, value sales of single portion and unpackaged ice cream recorded good growth in 2022.

Impulse Purchasing

Research conducted by NIQ on behalf of Checkout for the 52-weeks to 26 February 2023, showed that the majority of sales for impulse ice cream flowed through the convenience channel (forecourts and symbols) rather than through multiples.

Forecourts garnered 57% of sales and symbols secured 36%, with only 8% going through multiples.

Sales value across the three channels is up in the latest 52 weeks, but this is mostly driven by price inflation across the category, which in turns was driven by a 7.3% increase in supply costs. Sales value in forecourts increased by 6.9%, symbols recorded a 7.7% increase, while sales in multiples rose by 7.9%.

“Volume and unit sales were only slightly down in the latest 52 weeks, boosted by the re-opening of society in 2022 and the fact that the year turned out to be the warmest on record, with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees in July and August,” says Mark Pearce, client executive, retailer services Ireland, NIQ.

“The latest 52 weeks are overlapping with a large part of 2021, when Covid restrictions were still in place, resulting in overall growth for the category. The multiples channel is seeing a small volume increase of 3.1% and a unit increase of 2.4%, co-inciding with the re-opening of society in 2022.”

Visibility is the key to enticing consumers and effectively disrupting the shopper journey.

Ice cream is a category where consumption tends to be occasional and is often linked to fun and family so, from an in-store marketing perspective, ice-cream is a category that has a lot of untapped potential.

However, the frozen aisle can make achieving strong visibility and creating a link with an enjoyable consumption occasion more difficult to achieve than in other categories.

Products are often hidden behind doors, or out of the shopper’s eye-line, so even the strongest packaging can only do so much.

This means that, when the summer season gets underway, the positioning of ice cream freezers is key if retailers are to maximise the sales that come from impulse purchasing.

Take-home Ice Cream

Understandably, the majority of sales for take-home ice cream take place in the multiples channel rather than in convenience, with the precise breakdown being 70% multiples, 20% symbols and only 10% through forecourts.

“Take home ice-cream value, volume and unit growth is declining in the latest 52 weeks compared to a year ago, but this is understandable given the overlap with the majority of 2021 when Covid restrictions were in place, with more people at home buying more of the sharing style type of ice cream,” says Pearce.

The value decline is less than the volume and unit decline as a result of price inflation of 5% across the category.

Volume sales are declining ahead of unit sales, which suggests that consumers are buying more of the smaller pack formats and/or are having to pay more for less due to 'shrinkflation', with brands like Magnum, Ben & Jerrys and Haagen-Dazs reducing the size of their take-home offerings.

The Importance Of NPD

Jonathan Kirwan and Anthony Murphy of Gino’s ice cream company grew up as sons of ‘ice cream men’.

They spent their childhood travelling to every corner of Ireland in ice cream vans, sometimes even sleeping on top of the freezers.

Speaking with Checkout, Kirwan said, “Our paths crossed many times over the years, and then in 2008 we decided to combine our passion for the 'cold stuff' and set about creating the very best ice cream in Ireland.

This meant that we had to find the best in the world, which led us to Italy and gelato. We opened our first shop in Newbridge in 2008, and the rest is history.”

At Gino’s they offer over 50 flavours and Jonathan says that NPD is an important part of building trust with consumers and, in turn, growing sales. “It's crucial,” he says.

“Our flavour portfolio is endless and is constantly evolving.

We combine the very best dairy in the world – our 100% organic Irish milk – with the best Italian gelato flavourings to make a very special product.

Many people aren't aware that we make each flavour each day in every single shop to ensure the freshest, tastiest product for our customer.

Logistically, this can be challenging, but it is what makes us the very best.

In recent years, we have also evolved to offer more choice in our dairy-free and vegan options with our sorbet range, all made using filtered Irish water.

“While we always have our core popular range available in stores, it’s really important to keep our counters interesting with new flavour combinations. We have an exciting flavour coming to counters very soon in the shape of our Caramel Popcorn gelato. We will also have lots of new sorbets during the summer months, as well as the return of our ever popular Coconut and Dragon Fruit Sorbet.”

What is their top-selling ice cream flavour?“It really depends on the time of year, but Kinder Bueno, Strawberry and Pistachio are always up there,” he says.

What advice does he have for grocery retailers who are selecting the best ice cream brands to stock or are deciding on how to display their ice cream offering in store?

“Choose taste first,” he says.

“Trends come and go but taste is a constant.

Choose brands that use the best ingredients and create the best- tasting product without compromise.

At Gino’s, we have evolved our offering to now also offer organic milkshakes.

We have expanded our offering while staying true to our core.

Made fresh with organic gelato or sorbet and 100% organic milk (dairy-free is also available), our ice creams can be made from any flavour on the counter, and even with multiple flavours.

And, for all the milkshake lovers out there, put these on your list as the long summer evenings are finally on the horizon.”

Top-Five Brands

Ice cream is the tenth-ranked category in grocery in Ireland, according to the Top 100 Categories in the 2022 Checkout Top 100 Brands, which is produced by Checkout in association with NIQ.

Ice cream achieved an all-time-high position in the rankings in 2021, when it moved up to number eight, but last year it dropped by two places.

Magnum leads the category, with Ben & Jerry’s in second place. Cadbury ice cream is in third place, Nestlé claims the fourth- place spot, while Dale Farm is in fifth.

Read More: Ireland’s Top 5 Ice-Cream Brands Scoop Up Sales

© 2023 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Donna Ahern. For more A-brand news, click here. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.

Stay Connected With Our Weekly Newsletter

Processing your request...

Thanks! please check your email to confirm your subscription.

Stay connected with our weekly newsletter
Enjoy the most important stories from the world of Irish grocery retail, curated for you by our team of experts every week.
Stay connected with our weekly newsletter
Stay connected with our weekly newsletter
Enjoy the most important stories from the world of Irish grocery retail, curated for you by our team of experts every week.
Stay connected with our weekly newsletter