Consumers melt for low-fat ice cream in China



    Jul 08, 2016

    Consumers melt for low-fat ice cream in China


    THE pleasure of enjoying a scoop of ice cream is often accompanied by the guilt of consuming too much fat and sugar.

    In recent years, healthier ice cream alternatives have become a trend in China.

    Vivienne Li, owner of Vivi Dolce, one of the most successful gelato studios in Beijing, has noticed a shift in Chinese preferences towards healthier varieties of ice cream.

    "New types of ice cream are made from organic and natural ingredients - such as gelato, sorbet and other reduced fat products," she said.

    "They are certainly becoming more popular."

    In line with changing tastebuds, many brands have introduced low-sugar, low-calorie or low-fat products.

    For example, gelato boutiques have appeared throughout China, allowing customers to finally indulge in the frozen low-fat Italian delight.

    A 2015 report by research firm Mintel found that more ice cream - 5.9 billion litres - is eaten in China annually than anywhere else in the world.

    Thibaud Andre, a senior consultant and marketing manager at Daxue Consulting, said a person in China slurps up an average of about four litres of ice cream a year.

    "A trend has been that the ice cream industry is trying to get health-friendly, with low-calorie and low-carb options but it is playing catch-up to frozen yogurt," he added.

    Although China is now the largest ice cream market in the world, there is much catching up to do in the frozen yogurt department.

    A Chinese consumer savours only an average of four litres to five litres of frozen yogurt annually. This is four times less than customers in the US, said Mr Andre.

    One foreign frozen yogurt brand that has found success in China is United States-based Menchie's.

    Mr Fan noted Menchie's specially designed flavours, such as durian and matcha, appeal to Chinese consumers, along with the option of dining in after purchase.

    "I'm very optimistic about frozen yogurt in China."