Scots’ ice cream tastes shift upmarket

Mackie's of Scotland 30 flavours of ice cream for the Royal Highland show.
Mackie's of Scotland 30 flavours of ice cream for the Royal Highland show.
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Scottish consumers are buying more upmarket ice cream than ever before – and are turning their backs on budget and often non-dairy tubs as a result.

Market Data (Kantarworldpanel) has revealed that the premium ice cream market in Scotland is growing ahead of the rest of the UK at 2.1% total market share – with enough high-end produce sold to fill an Olympic swimming pool more than four times over.

The findings state that 66% of the population now buy premium ice cream, purchasing it six times a year and spending on average £2.65 per litre. The market has grown by 2.1% yet in the same time period, sales of ‘standard’ ice cream have plummeted by 10%.

Aberdeenshire based Mackie’s of Scotland remains the best selling premium brand north of the border, with 32% of the volume of branded premium ice cream market share, outselling established national brands such as Ben & Jerry’s and Wall’s Carte Dor.

Stuart Common, Commercial Director at Mackie’s of Scotland, said: “Scotland has a long and proud history of producing quality ice cream – with many Italians bringing their recipes with them as far back as the 19th Century – so it is great to witness the growing and continuing popularity of the treat of real ice cream.”

Stuart also believes there is now a much greater awareness of ingredients and provenance, with individuals more likely to scrutinise labels.

Channel 4’s ‘Supershoppers’ recently melted a range of brands in a high-profile test, highlighting the use of oils as a substitute for dairy, a common feature with budget ice cream.

He added: “People simply care about what is in their food and there is certainly an increased awareness out there about ingredients.

“For that reason we don’t expect this switch towards upmarket ice cream to change or slow down: Scots will increasingly opt for premium as an affordable luxury.

“Good ice cream is an instant dessert that is in keeping with the modern age. As a treat it simply makes sense to go for quality – and that is exactly what the growing number of Scottish ice cream aficionados are doing.”

While consumer interest in new flavours is always high, vanilla and Traditional remains by far the most popular flavour, with sales more than double the next flavour. Mackie’s unique, original ice cream flavour, “Traditional”, is a natural creamy flavour with no added flavour remains Mackie’s top seller accounting for 68% of Mackie’s Scottish sales.

The famous Scottish sweet tooth is also very evident, with ‘Honeycomb’ being the family firm’s second best seller, followed by the more recently launched ‘Scottish Tablet’ – already overtaking more traditional flavours such as strawberry and chocolate.

Mackie’s of Scotland produces over 11 million litres of ice cream each year, with fresh milk from its own dairy herd and part of its ‘sky to scoop’ philosophy – which also sees the Aberdeenshire firm produce everything from renewable energy to its own packaging.

Firmly established as one of the UK’s most popular take-home ice creams, Mackie’s diversified into making crisps in 2009, and chocolate bars on the Aberdeenshire farm in 2014.

Having recently added a dedicated £600,000 chocolate factory to its Aberdeenshire home farm, Mackie’s has achieved substantial new contracts for its chocolate, including initial deals with Tesco and Sainsbury’s, with new domestic contracts including the Co-op coming on board in 2016.