3 Trends Driving Dessert Innovation

January 2021

The frozen dessert and ice cream category continues to expand year-over-year and is expected to reach a market value of $135 billion by 2025.1 Consumers show a growing interest for better-for-you options, which is why many new product introductions balance loaded indulgence with added functional benefits.

While creativity and decadence will remain at the center of dessert innovation, product developers must also prepare for a growing focus on a clean label and simple, recognizable ingredients.

Here are three trends influencing dessert innovation in 2021:

1. Premium options feature functional, natural ingredients:

Functional ingredients are gaining momentum in the ice cream category, as consumers look for products with a focus on holistic health and wellness. From low-calorie and reduced sugar options to truly indulgent and premium varieties, product developers are striving for all-natural ingredients, incorporating superfood inclusions, plant-based ingredients, and authentic fruit and vegetable flavors to appeal to a more label-conscious consumer. Functional ingredients bring added benefits, such probiotics to aid in digestion and fruit inclusions that deliver important nutrients as well as natural sweetness.

2. Product developers give old favorites a creative twist:

Classic flavors and formats are still popular within the ice cream category, but consumers also show a growing preference for extravagant and inventive options loaded with toppings, fillings and inclusions.​ New ice cream introductions are seeing a boost from authentic baked inclusions, like gingerbread, brioche or waffle, while frozen cakes and pies get a premium makeover with decadent coatings and toppings. New colors are also taking center stage as product development teams strive to create desserts with a “wow” factor. From show stopping pink, purple and blue hues to muted greens and earthy tones, product developers are leveraging fruit and vegetable ingredients to bring all-natural color to a wide variety of ice cream and dessert products.




3. Sophisticated flavors for mature palates emerge:

Experimental new flavors are bursting onto the dessert scene, inspired by global cuisines, alcoholic beverages, tea, botanicals and spices. ​As consumer tastes evolve and become increasingly more adventurous, product developers will continue to look beyond classic flavors toward bold savory, sour and spicy notes for unique and buzzworthy flavor innovations.

Innovating with inclusions and toppings

By incorporating natural and authentic inclusions, product developers can fulfill on competing demands for more functionality and creativity in desserts.​ Versatile and easy to blend into existing recipes, Chaucer’s freeze-dried fruit and vegetable ingredients are ideal for adding natural flavors, vibrant colors, and nutrition to dessert and ice cream products. Unlike other drying methods, freeze drying locks in an ingredient’s authentic color and flavor, and preserves nearly all of the nutritional value of fresh fruit. Freeze-dried powders contain no added sugars or preservatives, and can even act as a natural stabilizer for ice cream, making them an immediate value-add for products appealing to a health-focused and clean label consumer.

Our R&D team is constantly developing new application ideas and creating ingredient solutions that add real value for our customers. Learn more about how you can use freeze-dried and baked ingredients in your dessert applications, or contact us to request a sample or more information.



  1. Grand View Research. June 2019.

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