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Dairy ingredients used in the industrial production of edible ices

24 July 2017

The French edible ices market

The ice creams market is very weather-sensitive. This market experienced an exceptional year in 2015 which resulted in a 10% increase in sales (both in value and volume). However, 2016 and its early-summer’s changeable weather reversed the trend with negative results. The generated sales were not enough to make up for the losses induced by July disastrous weather. Consequently, in 2016, this market faced drops of 1.5% in value and of 3.3% in volume. In terms of volume, the sales of ice cream cartons and specialties to share have respectively decreased of 6.5% and 6.2%, whereas the individual categories are doing well: mostly focused on snacking and mini formats, they are less weather-sensitive.

With an annual consumption of 5.6 liters, the French aren’t as fond of ice cream as the Italians (9.4 liters/year) or as the Swedes (12.3 liters/year). On a yearly basis, 360 liters of ice cream are consumed in France, which represents 11 liters/second!

The French consume vanilla flavored ice cream the most. As for brands, with 13.9% of market shares, Carte d’Or (Unilever) is the 1st brand on the French market.

Currently, the pints, cones, bars and pops sales are displaying the strongest growth. The bars and pops’ growth rate, driven by Magnum’s success, amounts to +11%. Both individual consumption and snacking take part in driving the market forward. In France, ice cream retail sales represent 70% of the volumes sold.

On this weather-sensitive seasonal market, industrials favor the product categories which aren’t so dependent on the, more-often-than-not, inclement weather. The ice cream business giants have gathered to form the Ice Cream Businesses Organization (created in 2016) to free this weather-sensitive market from seasonal fluctuations among other things.

While heat is setting in throughout France, ice-cream makers hope to renew the record sales of 2015: a record of €1 billion (Nielsen) and a +10% growth.


Ice cream various types


Edible Ice

The frequently used “ice cream” and “edible ice” are common terms that refer to a family composed of several products. Ice creams, dairy ice creams and sorbets are this product range’s main categories.

These ice products must comply with the regulations applicable to foodstuffs (hygiene, labeling, authorized food additives and flavors). They must also be stored in accordance with strict storage rules because of their temperature-sensitive content (ingredients such as eggs, crème fraîche…). The storage temperature must be inferior or equal to -18°C (a temperature of -10°C can be allowed only if the products are intended for immediate consumption – the duration must be as short as possible).

Technically, an ice cream is a half-frozen colloid which combines a foam and an emulsion with milk fat, ice crystals and air (the latter representing around 50% of the mix’s volume, though that can vary depending on the type of edible ice) spreading throughout the water from the milk.

  • Sorbets are mixes of drinking water, sugar, fruits or vegetables (added spices or plants may be possible). They contain no added fat. However, milk proteins may be added to the mix without interfering with the denomination “sorbet” but their content must not exceed 1%.


  • Dairy ice creams are a frozen mix of pasteurized milk, cream and sugar, fruits flavored (authorized dairy proteins addition). Their minimum content of dairy fat amounts to 5%.


  • Ice creams result from the freezing of a pasteurized mix which composition may vary: milk and/or egg-based ingredients and/or ingredients of vegetal origin and/or gelatin and sugar, fruits flavored. The denomination “milk ice” is reserved for mixes with contain fat of animal origin only (minimum content of 2.5%) and at least 6% of milk solids-not-fat.


Numerous formats

The consumption of edible ices can be divided in several formats (Nielsen 2015):

  • To share in formats such as:
    • Cartons (20%*)
    • Pints (9%*)
    • Specialties to share (3%*)
  • For individual consumption in formats such as:
    • Snacking (a total of 52% which includes 48% of pops, 36% of cones and 16% of bars*)
    • Individual specialties (10%*)
    • Ice creams for children (6%*)

*% of sales in France in 2015 (Nielsen)


Focus on the dairy ingredients used to manufacture industrial edible ices

Dairy ingredients are especially valued in the production of edible ices for their impact on the organoleptic characteristics of the final product.

Dairy fat

Ice creams’ fat content may vary: usually situated between 6% and 10%, its average stands close to 8-9%.

Dairy fat is especially used in ice creams production to:

  • Bring additional texture to the product,
  • Enhance the taste and flavors,
  • Limit the creation of ice crystals. 

Dairy fat may be added in the form of:

  • Cream: it results in superior organoleptic qualities for the final products, but implies a more substantial fat addition than milk.
  • Butter: when incorporating butter to the preparation, it is essential to use emulsifying agents to enable an even distribution of fat globules in the mix..
  • Anhydrous milk fat: its constant quality and its possible fractioning can meet the requirements of industrial edible ices production.

At the beginning of the 21st century, milk fat has been jeopardized by vegetal fat due to the prices of dairy ingredients – especially the milk fat – and also due to the improvement of vegetal fat’s organoleptic qualities. However, to meet the strong demand coming from consumers and giant retailers, dairy fat appears to be currently favored (dairy fat still retains a better image than vegetal fat). In France, a product made of vegetal fat must have the denomination “dessert glacé” (frozen dessert).

The first decade of the 21st century has suggested a change in the use of butter and cream in ice cream manufacturing: the latter being favored over the former. This mutation was engendered by the fluctuations of butter’s price and quality (induced by the disparities between summer and winter butter) whereas cream’s image has remained excellent.



Liquid milk, as an ingredient in ice cream manufacturing, provides the final product with superior organoleptic qualities. Ice-cream makers mainly use milk as an ingredient for their products to benefit from the properties of milk solids-not-fat (MSNF).

Milk solids-not-fat (MSNF) represents the non-fatty matter contained by milk (proteins, minerals, lactose). Proteins make for 2% to 4.7% of MSNF (3% on average). The fat-free dry matter content of milk confers a better deformation resistance on the product (because it increases the product density and makes it melt more easily).

Several functionalities of MSNF are essential to the production of a quality ice cream:

  • Emulsifying power (water and fat liaison),
  • Water retention,
  • Whipping power (easy air incorporation),
  • Improvement of the product’s melting behavior.

However, it is important to note that an excessive MSNF content may contribute to lactose crystallization and therefore may give a “sandy” defect to the product (sand-like texture).

Ice-cream formulations usually contain about 10% of MSNF (variable content).

MSNF may be added to the mix in diverse forms such as:


Dairy proteins

Dairy proteins (caseins, caseinates, milk proteins, whey proteins) enable among other things:

  • Whipping,
  • Gelling,
  • Coagulation,
  • Water retention,
  • Fat emulsifying,
  • Better melting behavior.

It is worth mentioning that sorbets may contain added dairy proteins but only in very low doses (less than 1%) to benefit from their function as bulking agent (product’s creaminess).


Skimmed milk powder

Skimmed milk powder represents a natural source of milk solids-not-fat (in substantial content) for ice cream. It is common to process to the standardization of dairy ingredients to adjust the proteins-to-fat ratio.

The proteins of skimmed milk powder take part in ice cream stabilization: they form a stable film around the air bubbles produced by the manufacturing process.


Dairy ingredients and specific products

  • Yoghurt ice is usually composed as follows: 60% of yoghurt, 16-18% of glucose, 20% of fruits and 0.25% stabilizing agents (pasteurized fermented or chemically acidified milk can’t bear this denomination).
  • Dietary ice (very popular in the United-States) usually presents a fat content of between 0.5% and 0.9%. Hydrolyzed lactose ice, which has an improved sweetening and softening power, is also included in this category.
  • Skimmed-milk-powder-substitutes-based products: WPC (whey protein concentrates) obtained by ultrafiltration may be used to manufacture ice cream.