It’s National Ice Cream Day 2021, And No Cows Are Allowed. National Ice Cream Day is here. The significance of ice cream has shifted in recent years, reflecting going American eating habits. According to Gallup, while only 5% of Americans are vegetarians or vegans, roughly 25% have reduced their meat consumption. Furthermore, 41% of Americans have experimented with plant-based meats. In addition, approximately half of all Americans purchase dairy-free milk.
With National Ice Cream Day this year, supermarkets like Whole Foods emphasize dairy-free options alongside traditional options, and for a good reason. According to SPINS data, plant-based ice creams are rising at a rate of 26.5 percent year over year, whereas dairy ice creams are growing at a rate of 1%.
By 2027, the category is expected to generate $1 billion in revenue. While that segment of the ice cream and frozen desserts market is still small, prominent brands are taking note. In 2021, Baskin-Robbins began serving ice cream made with oat milk at all of its locations. Non-dairy ice cream sales are exploding, according to Unilever executive Matt Close, but the consistency of ice cream is tough to achieve. New entrants are emphasizing novel ingredients to attain the consistency of ice cream and its nostalgic flavors, resulting in a rush of R&D in the category.
Kailey Donewald, a registered dietician and Certified Holistic Health Coach recognized shifting customer preferences years ago. She founded Sacred Serve, a dairy-free ice cream brand based in Chicago, in 2017 to provide a healthy alternative to the category, beginning with Whole Foods.
Donewald has been experimenting with dairy-free flavors that are reminiscent of childhood favorites such as chocolate and mint chip, but with a twist. Her dishes integrate superfoods, adaptogenic herbs, medicinal mushrooms, and low-glycemic coconut sugar, with organic young coconut Thai meat as the base. For example, the ingredients list for Sacred Serve’s newest flavor, cookies and cream, does not include the words “cookies” or “cream.”The formula relies heavily on tiger nuts and activated charcoal.
“Tigernut flour is the star of our newest Cookies N Cream flavor,” Donewald explains. Tigernuts are unusual in that they are a root vegetable rather than a nut. They are gluten-free, paleo-friendly, and high in prebiotic fiber, which is beneficial to the gut. I thought they’d be the perfect flour substitute for making cookies because of their natural sweetness. Activated charcoal, a fine powder derived from coconut shells, is a well-known detoxifying agent that traps toxins and gas in the gut, inhibiting absorption and aiding in elimination. It lends itself to the ultimate “oreo” flavor, we discovered. “And with that, Cookies N Cream was born – without either cookies or cream.”
Brave Robot takes a different approach to ingredients, using whey protein to simulate the softness of regular ice cream, resulting in a lactose-free, vegan dessert. According to The Spoon, the company “produces its dairy by genetically altering microorganisms to generate the two primary proteins in milk: casein and whey,” according to The Spoon. They blend the dried proteins with plant lipids, water, vitamins, and minerals to create a lactose-free product with milk’s taste, consistency, and nutritional breakdown.”
In their ingredient supply chains, both companies place a great emphasis on sustainability. Sacred Serve was the first company to achieve 100% recyclable, plastic-free packaging, a goal that even household names like Unilever have yet to achieve.
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