Arran Dairies Ice cream reformulation
21 July 2021
"Anything that we can do to help on obesity and health is a positive outcome for us. We also expect sales benefits from meeting consumer trends in the sector, and giving consumers a guilt-free, healthy option."
Matthew Dobson, Arran Dairies
- Ice cream, Yoghurts & Milk Based Drinks
Looking for sales uplifts and health benefits from cutting calories and sugars
Arran Ice Cream is made by Arran Dairies, a fourth-generation, family-run business in Brodick. We use only milk produced by local dairy herds on the island for our ice cream, which we sell across the UK and beyond, as well as locally.
Starting our reformulation journey
We know from our customers and general research that consumers are interested in healthier eating options. With obesity and other health issues in the news, they’re looking for guilt-free ways to enjoy good food.
Aware of this demand, we wanted to produce a low-calorie ice cream, but weren’t entirely sure how to go about it. Food and Drink Federation Scotland’s Reformulation for Health programme was the perfect starting-point. As well as providing financial support for us to reformulate our product through the Refomul8 fund, they have helped us with:
- an overview of where we are currently and our options
- targets for calorie reduction
- information on what other brands are doing, including alternative ingredients being used
- trail recipe formulations and nutritional analysis support
- Advice on innovative ingredient options
- Explore traffic light labelling and health claims for front of pack
Defining targets and benefits
That input helped us focus the project on two goals:
- lowering the calorie content of our base ice cream. We sell this as our ‘Traditional’ flavour and use it as the base mix for our other flavours
- launching a new low-cal ice cream. This will involve a bigger calorie reduction than for the base mix cut
Though it’s early days on the project, we expect to see several benefits
Benefits to our consumers and the local community, through a healthier product. They can enjoy our ice cream, while looking after their health and wellbeing.
New sales. With the low-cal product especially, we expect to attract new buyers – people who may usually avoid ice cream because they're calorie-counting.
An opportunity to tell our story. The reformulation project will help us talk about what we believe in – good ice cream, local milk, natural flavourings, and our roots in Arran.
Challenges and solutions
Those are the plans and hopes, but what about the challenges?
Firstly, we use only local Arran milk for our ice cream. This is important for the local economy and important for our product too. Arran has its own microclimate, making the grass very lush and the milk from our cows very creamy, which adds to the flavour and texture of our ice cream. This means most of the calorie reduction has to come from cutting sugars.
Secondly, we want to lower the calorie content without affecting the rich, full ‘mouth feel’ associated with our ice cream.
It’s early days on our reformulation journey, so we’ve not yet finalised our plans or recipes. But we've already made very positive progress. By adjusting the ratios of ingredients in the traditional recipe, we were able to reduce the saturated fat by 2.07g, and the sugar by 3.36g per 100g in the development trial giving a fantastic potential to remove approx. 2730kg of saturated fat and 4430kg sugar from customers’ diets while enjoying their Arran Dairies treats.
- we believe there is potential to decrease sugar content by up to 50% in the new low-cal range
- there’s a good choice of natural, plant-sourced sugar alternatives
- we’re hoping to launch a low-cal ice cream with fewer than 100 calories per 100g
Exploring traffic light labelling
One aspect we have explored with the Reformulation for Health team is traffic light labelling. A good early surprise from the project was discovering that our base mix ice cream was already in the amber category for fat and sugars, so this was excellent news.
Obviously, when adding fudge or tablet to an ice cream, that raises the calories, fat and sugars! But the fact we’re already starting from amber with our base mix will make it easier than we thought to move all our flavours into amber.
For that reason alone, I’d recommend the reformulation process to other businesses. By analysing how you can make your ingredients and products healthier, you increase your knowledge of what you do and where your business can go. We’re very excited about what we can do with this.
Food and Drink Federation Scotland’s Reformulation for Health programme offers support to small to medium-sized companies, both FDF members and non-members.