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Ice Cream and Frozen Desserts in Western Europe

February 2021

With much-reduced impulse and on-the-go consumption occasions in 2020 due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdowns, closures and travel restrictions, impulse and unpackaged ice cream sales declined, resulting in a negative performance by the overall market in this year. Take-home ice cream recorded positive growth, however, as more consumption moved into the home environment. Ice cream and frozen desserts is then expected to see a swift return to positive growth rates from 2021.

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Key Findings

Steady growth up to 2020

After posting positive annual growth rates up to 2020, albeit very modest ones at times, ice cream and frozen desserts slipped into decline in this year as distribution and sales were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sales, up to 2020, were being driven by the extensive, and still improving, product availability, regular innovations and even a number of warm summers. In addition, industry players continue to try and reduce the seasonality of ice cream sales, for example with the introduction of special autumn, winter or holiday editions.

Pandemic hits impulse sales occasions

Sales of impulse and unpackaged ice cream were negatively affected in 2020 by the COVID-19 virus and the measures taken across the region to try and contain its spread. Although grocery stores were generally allowed to remain open, some retail outlets were forced to close, and people were spending a lot less time than usual in public, significantly reducing impulse consumption occasions, and therefore also sales of impulse and unpackaged products.

Lockdowns drive take-home ice cream sales

On the other hand, more consumption occasions moved into people’s homes, with people in lockdowns/quarantines and remote working/learning. This meant that take-home ice cream continued to grow in 2020, with consumers seeing these products as affordable treats and indulgences.

Swift recovery expected

A regional CAGR of 2% is expected over 2020-2025, as impulse and unpackaged ice cream return to recording increasing sales from 2021, and with take-home ice cream continuing to see a positive development. There remains potential to further develop the trend towards healthier products in the category over the forecast period, with industry players likely to target consumers with innovations in HW areas and in terms of more natural ingredients.



Key findings

Regional Overview

Western Europe closes the sales gap on leading region Asia Pacific
Rebound expected in 2021 after the decline seen in 2020
Two biggest markets in pandemic-induced decline in 2020
Take-home ice cream the only main area still growing in 2020
UK’s take-home ice cream sales helping to drive regional growth
Pandemic has a mixed impact on ice cream products in 2020
Modern grocery retailers dominate retail distribution
Supermarkets lead, but other grocery retailers still an important channel

Leading Companies and Brands

Unpackaged ice cream from artisanal players dominates in Italy
Unilever continues to extend its lead in Western Europe
Unilever a true multinational with a presence right across the region
No change at the top of the brand rankings

Forecast Projections

Rebound to positive growth expected from 2021
Impulse and unpackaged ice cream sales increasing from 2021

Country Snapshots

Austria: Market Context
Austria: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Belgium: Market Context
Belgium: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Denmark: Market Context
Denmark: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Finland: Market Context
Finland: Competitive and Retail Landscape
France: Market Context
France: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Germany: Market Context
Germany: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Greece: Market Context
Greece: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Ireland: Market Context
Ireland: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Italy: Market Context
Italy: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Netherlands: Market Context
Netherlands: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Norway: Market Context
Norway: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Portugal: Market Context
Portugal: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Spain: Market Context
Spain: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Sweden: Market Context
Sweden: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Switzerland: Market Context
Switzerland: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Turkey: Market Context
Turkey: Competitive and Retail Landscape
UK: Market Context
UK: Competitive and Retail Landscape


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