It may be plain, but vanilla has our hearts: Tesco lifts the lid on the nation’s ice cream eating habits

New research from Tesco reveals that summer truly is the time for ice cream to shine, with two thirds of us enjoying it at least once a week.

More than four in five (86%) people claim to enjoy ice cream most during the summer, with July emerging as the most popular month. This year, Tesco has lifted the lid on the nation’s ice cream eating habits, alongside its ice cream trends and predictions for 2023.

The data shows the nation to have an enduring love for classic flavours, with vanilla (42%), chocolate (32%) and mint chocolate chip (29%) taking the top spots. On the other hand, once-beloved flavours seem to have lost their charm. Neapolitan, a once favourite variety in the 80s, is the ice cream of choice for only 11% of the nation and misses out on the top 10.

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When it comes to the UK’s ice cream capital, Cardiff takes the title, with nearly three quarters (74%) of people indulging in a refreshing ice cream at least once a week during the summer. Close contenders for this position include Sheffield (73%) and Southampton (71%).

What's your favourite?What's your favourite?
What's your favourite?

When enjoying ice cream at home, nearly half (45%) of ice cream enthusiasts prefer to savour the treat in a bowl, while just over a quarter (29%) opt for the classic cone. Surprisingly, one in four people (25%) admit to indulging in their ice cream straight from the tub – a trope much-seen in Hollywood films - embracing a casual and carefree approach.

Reflecting ever-evolving ice cream trends, Gen Z exhibits somewhat more adventurous preferences. One in ten (11%) of 18–24-year-olds now favour ice cream sandwiches, whilst 8% delight in the chewy texture of mochi as their preferred ice cream treat.

The nation’s top 10 ice cream flavours

Vanilla (42%)

Chocolate (32%)

Mint Choc Chip (29%)

Salted Caramel (24%) and Raspberry Ripple (24%)

Strawberry (23%)

Cookie Dough (20%)

Caramel Vanilla (19%)

Pistachio (17%)

Lemon (16%), Mango (16%) and Strawberries and Cream (16%)

Fudge (14%)

Jaimini Sharma, Ice Cream Product Development Manager at Tesco said: “The nation may still be in love with the classics, but the ice cream space is bursting with exciting flavours such as Coconut & Passion Fruit, Roasted Pistachio and Raspberry Eton Mess. With a growing demand for indulgence and premium ingredients, ice cream enthusiasts are on the hunt for tantalising flavours that elevate their dessert experiences. At the heart of it all, ice cream has a unique ability to transport us back to cherished childhood memories, satisfying our cravings for timeless treats.”

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Jaimini has shared her top three trends in the ice cream space for 2023.

Sundaes at home

We’re all watching the pennies more than ever, but a sweet treat doesn’t need to break the bank. It’s easy to whip up ice cream sundaes at home and it’s a great summer activity to do with little ones. Pick up waffle cones or choose a favourite bowl, and add a scoop of Ms Molly's Vanilla Ice Cream 2Ltr for under 10p per serving**. Go all out with the toppings and load up with some fresh fruit, hundreds and thousands and a squeeze of your favourite sauce to top it off.

Crazy for caramel

Caramel, especially salted caramel, is experiencing a surge in popularity, becoming a firm favourite amongst ice cream lovers. Between 2015 and 2020, salted caramel witnessed a remarkable growth rate of 105%***. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that salted caramel now ranks as the nation’s fourth most popular ice cream flavour amongst 24% of people according to Tesco data. The trend towards salted caramel appears to have multigenerational appeal and illustrates our growing appetite for combining sweet and savoury flavours. For those looking to get in on the caramel craze, why not try the delicious Tesco Finest Cornish Sea Salted Caramel Ice Cream or Tesco Salted Caramel Cheesecake Ice Cream.

Textures for every taste

Ice creams are becoming increasingly adventurous, giving rise to new and exciting flavour combinations and innovative textural inclusions. This trend has seen the rise of indulgently nostalgic cookie dough in ice cream. Reminiscent of childhood, this cookie dough craze has multigenerational appeal and has been steadily growing in popularity. Any fans of this trend absolutely have to try a tasty tub of Tesco Cookie Dough Ice Cream or the vegan Wicked Kitchen Cookie Dough Ice Dream to get in on the action. Another noteworthy textural phenomenon is mochi ice cream. These bite-sized balls of ice cream or sorbet are encased in a soft mochi dough exterior, providing a unique mouth feel.

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