Sold commercially since the late 1930s, soft serve is a type of ice cream which is softer and less dense than the regular ice cream. It is served at –6 °C which is slightly warmer than the temperature at which the ice cream is served. This higher temperature is responsible for a softer frozen desert that contains less fat and more air than regular ice cream. The soft serve these days are generally served with toppings that help in intensifying the soft serve’s flavours and texture (vanilla being the oldest and the most preferred flavour and chocolate being the popular choice for toppings). According the experts of the Kerry Group, the consumers of the Asia Pacific region are inclined towards colourful ice creams and have grown fond of the jet black charcoal and bright purple sweet potato soft serves. The trend of having soft serves with French fries is going mainstream globally, putting forward a positive growth trajectory for the global soft serves market.
Soft serves are slightly less cold than the traditional ice cream. Ice cold foods such as ice cream tend to numb the taste buds but having soft serve doesn’t have that impact, rather the consumer experiences more taste sensations. Soft serve generally has considerably less fat and calories than ice cream, making it a tasty alternative for low-fat diet. Some consumers find ice cream to be so icy cold that it causes their teeth or their dental fillings to hurt, eventually giving them brain freeze. The intense aching and freezing cold sensation is felt in the sinus cavity, back of the throat, or roof of the mouth after consuming food that is way too cold. This could be avoided while having soft serve as it is chilled at a significantly lower temperature. These factors would not only result in the growth of the soft serve market players but also benefit soft serve ice cream machine manufacturers and service providers.
Based on Ingredients, soft serves can be segmented as:-
Based on Premix Form, soft serves can be segmented as:-
Based on Sales Channel, soft serves can be segmented as:-
Some of the key players manufacturing soft serves are as follows – Kerry Group, Glanbia plc, Nestle, Dupont, ConAgra, General Mills, Kraft Heinz, Cargill, and Others.
The market players need to capitalise on the flavour trends in the soft serve industry. According to the report published by Datassential, vanilla remains the dominant flavour in terms of sales. Owing to the changing eating habits of customers and their curiosity to try out different things, the market players are left with options to experiment on the emerging dessert flavour trends, like brown butter, hibiscus, cardamom, smoke, and agave. Restaurants and fast food joints can introduce soft serve bases such as buttermilk, cucumber, parmesan, sweet pea, tomato, and others to attract customers.
The Covid-19 crisis had a negative impact on the overall food and beverages market. Luckily, the soft serve industry experienced minimal impact of the pandemic. Owing to the world wide disruption of supply chain and logistics, the B2C segment of soft serves contracted, giving local and regional players business opportunities. Fast food joint (especially popular franchises) is a sub-segment of the HORECA segment that was surprisingly doing quite well during the initial phases of the pandemic owing to the hygienic conditions and precautionary measures implemented and guaranteed by them. The soft serve market was able to sustain during the pandemic and will grow steadily post the COVID-19 pandemic.
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