Hint: It's not America.
You might be shocked to hear this since ice cream is so universally beloved, but sales of the frozen dessert are down in the United States and the United Kingdom. Asian countries are actually the leading market for ice cream at the moment, and it’s India that had the fastest growing ice cream sales in the world in 2016, according to new research from Mintel.
Their Ice Cream Global Annual Review 2017 reports that India sold 334.4 million liters of cream in 2016, growing at a rate of 13 percent annually.
“Increasing disposable incomes in India have made [ice cream] a more affordable treat for consumers,” Ranjana Sundaresan, global senior analyst at Mintel, explained in an email to Quartz. “It is no longer seen as (just) a treat for kids, and adults are now looking at ice cream as a snacking option.”
Volume sales of ice cream in India are expected to overtake those in the United Kingdom. Indonesia and Vietnam’s ice cream markets are also experiencing a growth spurt, but it’s actually China that can claim the world’s biggest ice cream market: The country sold an astounding 4.3 billion liters of ice cream in 2016 (the United States trailed close behind with a total of 2.7 billion liters sold, so if we are starting to eat less ice cream, it's not by much).
Another surprise is that in terms of individual ice cream consumption, Norwegians come out on top: They eat 9.8 liters of ice cream per capita, followed by Australia and Sweden, with 9.4 liters and 8.9 liters respectively.
Asian countries are also the world’s leading ice cream innovators. 32% of all new ice cream products were launched in Asia in 2016. And there’s a market for Asian inspired ice cream flavors: 30% of Canadians, for instance, say they’d be interested in trying out green tea or mango treats.
If you’re looking for non-dairy ice cream options, you could be seeing more soon: That market saw a 4% growth in 2016 – still a small number, but it’s been steadily growing over the past three years.
What does all this research prove? That everyone, everywhere, still loves ice cream in all its flavors. What's not quite as obvious is that it's not America leading in the world in ice cream sales. Better go eat some right now to boost our numbers.