What you need to know

68% of consumers have not tried but are interested in trying plant-based ice cream, suggesting the opportunity to offer ice cream made from dairy alternatives under the plant-based trend.

Although the COVID-19 outbreak has negatively impacted out-of-home occasions, packaged ice cream benefits from increased in-home time and growing availability from online and New Retail channels. The high level of uncertainty about the global economy and increasing pressures on Chinese consumers results in growing sales of packaged ice cream.

The biggest threat to the packaged ice cream market comes from freshly-made products. Compared with packaged ice cream, ice cream made on the spot has witnessed more robust growth in penetration. Meanwhile, the sophisticated dessert trend of adding additional ingredients including ice cream in freshly-made tea drinks may also affect the consumption of packaged ice cream.

Although chilling out remains the most common consumption occasion for packaged ice cream, consumers have ice cream on various occasions, suggesting brands can shift the focus away from the “ice” aspect to help break seasonal and temperature limits on consumption. Enriched texture with various ingredients can strengthen the role of ice cream as a snack or dessert, further expanding the audience and increasing consumption.

Key issues covered in this Report

  • Future market outlook and growth prospects in the next five years

  • Latest new product trends and growth opportunities

  • Changes in product penetration and consumption occasions

  • Shift in purchase journey after COVID-19 and implications on channel choices

  • Desired attributes and attitudes towards product innovation

Covered in this Report

The market size covers all packaged ice cream, sorbets and water ices in individually wrapped and multipack format. Popsicles, bricks, sandwiches, cups, tubs, and buckets are included. Frozen yogurt is also included.

The market value and volume comprise sales through all retail channels including direct to consumer.


Unwrapped items eg ice cream in cones; scoops (out of tub) at ice cream parlours; desserts eg frozen cakes.


Mintel divides consumers into three groups based on their Monthly Personal Income (MPI).

  • High personal income is defined as MPI above RMB10,000 in tier 1 cities, or above RMB9,000 in tier 2 cities or below;

  • Middle personal income is defined as MPI of RMB6,000-10,000 in tier 1 cities, or RMB5,000-9,000 in tier 2 cities or below;

  • Low personal income is defined as MPI below RMB6,000 in tier 1 cities, or below RMB5,000 in tier 2 cities or below.

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