Following its food truck debut, PureCircle plans to offer the ice cream products for sale to restaurants, ice cream parlors, hotels and other foodservice outlets. In addition, the company will offer to sell stevia-based ingredient blends to producers of ice cream sold at retail and in foodservice. The new PureCircle ice cream offerings (available in chocolate, vanilla, coffee, and sea salt caramel) will be available in 5.3-ounce cups and pints at launch featuring the company name on the logo.
"We want to showcase the amazing capabilities of our next generation stevia leaf ingredients including taste performance and versatility to work in a wide range of applications," PureCircle CEO Maga Malsagov told FoodNavigator-USA. "Our new ice cream is the result of our formulation expertise and our great tasting next generation stevia sweeteners."
PureCircle has been ramping up production and supply of its better-tasting but less abundant Reb D and Reb M steviol glycosides to match growing demand for the zero-calorie sweetener. Malsagov noted that its next generation sweeteners including Reb M have been received "extremely well" by the food and beverage industry and have been used by major CPG companies in their products.
Malsagov added that its next generation sweeteners have a "clean, sugar-like taste and work well across multiple consumer product categories."
Continued trend towards light ice cream
Last year, the number of new products launched using stevia globally grew +31% (roughly three times the growth rate in 2017), according to Mintel. Over the last decade, stevia has been used in more than 20,000 beverage and food launches.
Stevia has become a popular zero-calorie sweetener (beating other commonly-used high-intensity sweeteners such as aspartame) in the beverage category, appearing in carbonated soft drinks, ready-to-drink iced tea, and plant-based dairy alternatives.
However, PureCircle wanted to highlight the functionality of its stevia in ice cream because of the product's universal appeal and a larger industry shift towards better-for-you formulations. Fast-growing light ice cream brands such as Halo Top, Arctic Zero, Enlightened, and Ben & Jerry's Moophoria line have popularized the concept of 'permissable indulgence', which allows consumers to indulge without the guilt.
"Ice cream is a universally-loved product," said Malsagov. Currently, the US is the world's second largest ice cream market behind China, noted Mintel.
"There is a movement in the ice cream category now to reduce sugar and calories. We think our PureCircle stevia-sweetened zero-sugar-added ice cream is the best tasting of any of those products. By far, " said Malsagov. "Plus, we are seeing significant growth and excitement for our next generation stevia ingredients in the ice cream category."
In 2018, the launches of dairy-based ice cream products using stevia grew by +280% compared to 2017, according to Mintel’s New Product Database.