"There's an ice cream sandwich out right now; it's the Oreo brand [and] it's huge," Sloan said. "But the Oreo cookies themselves are a perfect shape; they're a perfect size. So, we said why don't we make an Oreo-cookie-size ice cream sandwich but use our rules, use simple ingredients, make sure it's dairy-free, make sure it's gluten-free. And that's when we came up with our dairy-free, gluten-free mini-cookie sandwiches."
Mochi provides an example of what’s possible in frozen treats
Just in time for the summer ice cream season, Chloe's has released Mini Cookie Sandwich in vanilla and chocolate flavors, featuring oat milk ice cream pressed against two gluten-free cookies. The Mini Cookie Sandwiches will be available in a box of six 1.5 oz sandwiches for $7.99 and can be purchased in the Northeast from FreshDirect and nationwide from GTFO It's Vegan.
In creating the new product, Chloe’s found inspiration from another bite-size indulgence, which has seen an explosion of market activity in recent years.
“Even though this is a cookie sandwich, we're actually targeting the mochi market. Mochi had this amazing rise ... and part of what propelled it was getting into all the salad bars... where they had the single freezers [and] where they're offering single serve.”
Not only did mochi show the potential of smaller, more bite-size frozen treats, but they also showed that consumers were willing to pay more for smaller-sized indulgences, Sloan said. Outside of the frozen treat segment, brands like cupcake brand Baked by Melissa provide another example of how brands can find success with smaller format indulgences, he added.
"They took this Japanese concept, which has rice flour on the outside and ice cream on the inside, teaching people that they want to pay more for less, teaching people that they want something handheld [and] bite-size ... that's actually more expensive on a per unit basis than other things that are out there, but it also has fewer calories."
Delivering on gluten-free, dairy-free options
And while Chloe’s didn’t set out to be a gluten- or dairy-free brand — having initially sold frozen fruit pops — its mission of creating inclusive clean-label frozen treats led them in that direction, Sloan explained.
"We didn't set out to build a dairy-free, gluten-free brand. That was just the ethos of our company. It happened to be dairy-free, gluten-free," Sloan said. "Gluten free-options have grown, and we were there waiting for them as they come to us... With dairy-free, I think it's similar. I think people are realizing that dairy isn't the best."
And both the non-dairy ice cream and gluten-free food markets are also poised for growth in the coming years as consumers look for better-for-you products.
The global plant-based ice cream market was worth an estimated $1.6bn in 2022 and is projected to grow to $4.3bn in 2023, growing at a CAGR of 10% between 2023 and 2033 spurred by demand for clean label products, according to Future Market Insights. And the global gluten-free market was valued at $5.9bn in 2021 and is expected to grow by a similar 9.8% CAGR between 2022 and 2030 due to demand for healthier and those with specific dietary concerns, per Grand View Research data.
Using the summer months to boost trials
As the brand looks out the rest of the year, Chloe's is looking to expand the distribution of its Mini Cookie Sandwiches to more retail locations, while also capitalizing on the summer months and consumers' willingness to try new frozen treats, Sloan said. "We view ... April to August as when people want to try new items, so this is our time to conquest customers in a customer acquisition model," he added.
And as Chloe’s is looking to bring more consumers into the brand and cater to the demand for dairy- and gluten-free frozen treats, the brand is sticking to its principles of creating better-for-you frozen treats with fewer ingredients, Sloan said, adding that it won’t be creating an animal-based frozen treat anytime soon.
"We have our brand guardrails, and it seems that the world's coming towards us. And it seems that the universe of dairy-free and gluten-free is expanding, but we're not even limiting to that. We're trying to [provide] a delicious ice cream sandwich and hope that people feel the same way and enjoy it."