The United States leads the world in annual production of ice cream and related frozen desserts at about 1.6 billion gallons in 2003, with most households choosing to indulge with regular offerings.
In 2003, regular ice cream still commanded the lion's share of the market at 64 percent, while reduced-fat, light, low-fat and non-fat ice cream accounted for 24 percent.
However, it would appear that Unilever and Haagen-Dazs are looking to change that and build on the increasing number of Americans who want to decrease the size of their waist line.
Unilever said on Friday that it was using double churned technology to create a new generation of premium light ice cream, which "delivers all of the creamy taste of regular ice cream with half the fat".
"Not only are consumers watching calories and fat, there also is a growing interest in products made with all natural ingredients. We're the first to launch an all natural light premium ice cream that has the same creamy taste as regular premium ice cream," said Dan Hammer, vice president of marketing and development for Unilever Ice Cream.
Initially, Breyers Light will be available in seven flavors, namely Creamy Vanilla, Vanilla Bean, Creamy Chocolate, Vanilla/Chocolate/Strawberry, Mint Chocolate Chip, Butter Pecan and Rocky Road.
A half-cup serving ranges from 100 to 140 calories and from 3.5 to 5 grams of fat - half the fat and 25 percent fewer calories than regular ice cream, according to Unilever.
Meanwhile, Haagen-Dazs announced yesterday that it planned to introduce its light version of the food - containing 50 percent less fat - but assuredly no less flavor - than the regular range.
The ice cream retains its flavor because it is made using a a proprietary European process that uses slow, low-temperature blending, according to Haagen-Dazs. Hence, the same "high quality, all natural ingredients that are used in its full-fat ice cream" are used and no artificial sweeteners, fat substitutes, or air are added.
The ice-creams are therefore colored with natural fruit juices, and eggs and lemon juice used in preference to artificial emulsifiers and citric acid.
Total US production of ice cream and related frozen desserts in 2003 amounted to about 1.6 billion gallons, up about 1.3 percent over the previous year prior, translating to about 22 quarts per person, according to the USDA, with the top flavors being, in descending order, vanilla, chocolate, nut/caramel, neapolitan and strawberry.