KANSAS CITY — The US ice cream and frozen novelties market boomed in 2020 as consumers were forced to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Mintel’s 2021 US Ice Cream Market Report. More in-home eating opportunities and consumers seeking food for comfort caused the category to skyrocket.

“An increase in eating and treating at home boosted the ice cream and frozen novelty market in 2020, bringing in a 16.3% dollar sales increase over 2019 totals,” said Kaitlin Kamp, food and drink analyst at Mintel.

To help frozen novelty makers retain these increased sales, Mintel said, brands must innovate to create healthier offerings as comfort eating declines.

“The category is expected to hold onto a large share of growth due to ample innovation from category players, but brands will still face challenges — namely economic uncertainty and a post-pandemic return to wellness,” Ms. Kamp said. “Affordable packaged alternatives to foodservice offerings can appeal to the cost-conscious, while a focus on health-focused ingredients and functionality can grant permissibility.”

Amid this return to wellness, demand for low-calorie and low-sugar frozen novelties has spiked, according to Grandview Research’s US Frozen Desserts Market Report.

 “Growth in consumers’ awareness regarding eating healthy, staying fit and avoiding weight gain is expected to drive the demand for low-calorie frozen novelties,” Grandview Research said.

Another burgeoning trend in the frozen novelty space is vegan products. The demand for dairy-free offerings has expanded beyond lactose-intolerant consumers to include those looking for variety, following a specific diet or simply seeking more plant-based foods, Grandview Research said. Vegan frozen desserts are anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 11.3% from 2021 to 2028.

Additionally, the water and fruit puree-based frozen novelty segment is forecast to be the fastest growing product segment in the category, Grandview Research said, growing at a CAGR of 13% from 2021 to 2028.

View slideshow of new frozen novelty products.