Gelato Jonny 16 – Sugar Sugar – Should we make sugar free ice cream?

No points for guessing what my chosen topic is for this month.  We all want to keep our customers sweet, but how many customers are looking for low or no sugar ice cream?  One question I get asked a lot is ‘Do I need to make sugar free or low sugar ice cream?’  I know that those who ask this question are hoping for a straight yes or no answer, but I think you probably know me better than that by now! My usual response is to ask another question – ‘Who is it for?’…

Ma‘arratmişrīn Who is buying your ice cream?

The reason that there is not a straight yes or no answer to whether or not you should make low/no sugar ice cream is because not everyone I speak to has the same customer demographic/geographic market or position in the supply chain.  So what has this got to do with making low sugar ice cream I hear you ask?

It depends if you are selling directly to consumers or if you are a wholesaler and again who your customers are. Consider the difference between selling ice cream to a typical family on holiday for immediate consumption, to selling ice cream in large tubs to a local shop or gym or delicatessen.

Rueil-Malmaison Consumers buying ice cream in a parlour

Let’s take the family first as an example – do you think they will walk into the ice cream parlour thinking ‘I am going to lose weight today’?  Very unlikely – more likely ‘I know I need to lose weight but I am on holiday so I deserve a treat’.  In fact I believe there are very few people who enter an ice cream parlour or gelateria or delicatessen for that matter who have losing weight on their mind.  So if your answer to ‘who is it for?’ is consumers in an ice cream parlour then the answer is probably – no you don’t need to make sugar free ice cream.  However there are exceptions to every rule and the exception here is if you know you have customers who are diabetic or particularly come in asking for sugar free products.

explosively A word about ‘free from’

When talking about ‘free from’ recipes in previous articles I have suggested making the ‘free from’ ice cream but not labelling it as such so as not to put off other customers.  With sugar this is a bit different as you will understand if you have tasted some of the sugar free fizzy drinks compared with their standard originals.  Despite being numerous sweeteners and sugar alternatives available on the market, none of them taste exactly the same as sugar.  I think you will find that the taste of sugar substitutes divides people – some think it is fine and others really don’t like it. Using sugar alternatives will affect the taste of your ice cream or gelato – some will like it others may not.  The main question here is, will this change in taste impact your brand?  What are you known for in your market?  If the answer to the latter is rich, creamy, indulgent gelato and ice cream then low/no sugar is probably not a requirement for your cabinet.  So who might want low/no sugar ice cream or gelato?

Wholesalers selling to local grocery shops, gyms, supermarkets etc

Think about how different your mindset is when shopping in a grocery shop or supermarket to that as you enter an ice cream parlour.  In a supermarket you might be thinking about healthy foods or convenience products or low cost items, where as in an ice cream parlour you are giving  yourself a treat.  Obviously if you are in a gym you are definitely thinking about your health so these are the outlets where a low sugar ice cream might be better received and even requested.  If you are a wholesaler with these type of establishments on your customer list then a sugar free option might be a necessity.

Points to consider for making sugar free ice cream

So let’s assume that you do have customers who require sugar free or low sugar ice cream.  Here are a few points that you need to consider when making a low/no sugar recipe:

  • You will need to stock additional ingredients – sweeteners as an alternative to sugar such as:
        • sorbitol
        • maltidol
        • erythritol
        • stevia
  • Additional ingredients means higher costs – how will you recoup these – can you charge extra for low sugar or just average it out across all your recipes?
  • Will your low/no sugar customers be so delighted to have an ice cream option they can eat that they would be prepared to pay a bit extra?
  • Consider your over-run and how much air your recipe needs to have (see my article about hot air from the April magazine)
  • How will you promote your low/no sugar options so customers know it is available?
  • If you are a key provider of ‘free from’ ice cream or gelato, and you already make, vegetarian, vegan, lactose free, gluten free and/or nut free recipes then you probably already have a low/no sugar recipe but if you don’t, do you think there are customers that might expect you to offer one?

Do I need to make a sugar free ice cream?

So in summary you don’t need to make a sugar free ice cream unless you are serving the special dietary section of the market.  It all depends on if you have a market for it and whether it would enhance or damage your ice cream style and brand.  Will your customers care? If you are not sure – ask them, either via a quick question at the counter or one of your social media platforms!

If you want to discuss sugar free ice cream options to fit with your brand and current recipes book a One 2 One with me and we can experiment using some of your ingredients.

See you next time for the latest scoop.


Gelato Jonny

where to purchase cheap Quetiapine no rx Antonelli’s National Technical Manager Jonny Ireland is a regular contributor to the ICA’s Ice Cream Magazine…

See how this article looked in the October 2020 Edition of the ICA’s Ice Cream Magazine…

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