KANSAS CITY — The North American ice cream and frozen dessert market is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 2.83% to reach $21.62 billion by 2025, according to market research company Mordor Intelligence. Growing demand for plant-based frozen desserts is the key factor driving the segment.

“Due to rising health concerns, consumers are interested in ice cream made with natural ingredients,” Mordor Intelligence said. “Companies are offering consumers more ‘better-for-you’ options in the way of smaller portion sizes and better ingredients, including vegetables, oats, soy and dairy-free options.”

To capitalize on this trend, ice cream and frozen dessert manufacturers have been churning out better-for-you innovation in 2020, including plant-based, dairy-free, low-calorie and keto options.

One of the largest players in the ice cream and frozen dessert market is Unilever PLC, which has unveiled a number of plant-based, dairy-free frozen desserts in 2020.

This month, the company’s Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto business released two new dairy-free sorbetto flavors – strawberry hibiscus and dark chocolate – and a new dairy-free Layers variety: Dairy-Free Coconut Chocolate Cookie.

"At Talenti, each flavor is crafted for taste and we're always listening to fan feedback to our flavors, including our Layers and sorbetto lines,” Ms. Miller said. “That's why we are excited to add flavors that directly respond to what our fans want, such as dairy-free options.”

Also this month, Unilever's Magnum Ice Cream brand added a new flavor to its non-dairy bar lineup – Non-Dairy Sea Salt Caramel Bars. Certified vegan and made with Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa, the bars feature a sea salt caramel base made with coconut oil and pea protein dipped in a cracking non-dairy chocolate shell.

"At Magnum Ice Cream, we're obsessed with delivering a next-level bite," said Leslie Miller, director of marketing for North America ice cream at Unilever. "Caramel is Magnum's most popular ice cream flavor in dairy bars and tubs, so it's exciting to bring it to market in an equally delicious Non-Dairy Bar."Also this month, Unilever’s

In January, Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s subsidiary launched three new non-dairy frozen dessert pints made with a sunflower seed butter base. Varieties include “Milk” & Cookies, Crème Brulee Cookie and Mint Chocolate Cookie.

“Plant-based eating is one of the biggest trends in the world, and ice cream lovers everywhere have shouted for non-dairy/vegan options that rise to the levels of Ben & Jerry’s euphoric awesomeness,” said Matthew McCarthy, chief executive officer of Ben & Jerry’s.

Other new dairy-free desserts hitting the market include Chloe’s Oatmilk Pops and Alden’s Organic dairy-free frozen desserts in carton and sandwich formats that are made with brown rice, oat flour, coconut oil and pea protein.

Low-calorie ice cream innovation is also on the rise.

Nestle SA, another big player in the ice cream and frozen dessert market, recently unveiled Heaven, a new light ice cream collection with one-third fewer calories, half the fat and 25% less sugar per serving than its regular ice cream, the company said. Featuring ultra-filtered skim milk, Häagen-Dazs Heaven ice cream is made with non-GMO ingredients, contains 230 calories or fewer per serving and comes in four flavors:  Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel, Strawberry Waffle Cone, Peanut Butter Chip and Cold Brew Espresso Chip.

”The Häagen-Dazs brand is dedicated to creating perfect moments for all consumers to indulge, which is why we were inspired to create Heaven,” said Meredith Saxe, brand manager for Häagen-Dazs. “This collection offers lower calorie options, while still satisfying a sweet tooth with the deliciously rich flavor you’d expect from a Häagen-Dazs product. These flavors were thoughtfully crafted with the finest ingredients to continue delivering the iconic creamy texture and perfect flavors you expect from the Häagen-Dazs brand.”

In February, ZoCal unveiled its flagship line of frozen desserts, including low-calorie ice cream and zero-calorie ice pop and sorbet bars. All products contain no sugar or sugar alcohols, no fat and no cholesterol.

New keto creations also have been trending in the ice cream and frozen dessert segment as more and more consumers opt to follow a high-fat, low-carb diet.

Halo Top, a subsidiary of Wells Enterprises, Inc., in January introduced a line of keto-friendly ice cream. Made with ultra-filtered skim milk, which provides more protein and fewer calories than regular milk, the products contain 5 to 10 grams of net carbs and 410 to 630 calories per pint. Halo Top’s Keto Series includes seven flavors: peanut butter chocolate, caramel butter pecan, chocolate cheesecake, jelly donut, berry swirl, banana cream pie and white chocolate macadamia nut.

“Our brand is focused on making delicious desserts that everyone can feel good about eating, and these new flavors allow us to do that for our fans looking to limit their sugar intake,” said Meg Graeff, senior brand manager of Halo Top, a subsidiary of Wells Enterprises, Inc. “Halo Top is proud to roll out these seven delicious new flavors for our Keto Series, and we can’t wait for our fans to try them all.”

Beyond Better Foods in February added two new flavors to its Enlightened keto ice cream line: a caramel dark chocolate peanut ice cream bar and a caramel chocolate double dough ice cream pint.

"We love to push the boundaries of flavors while maintaining sound nutrition," said Michael Shoretz, founder and chief executive officer of Enlightened. "We're excited to give fans two uniquely decadent ice creams that just happen to be ultra-low sugar and keto-friendly."

View slideshow of new ice creams and frozen desserts.