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Innovation and Sustainability: Key Ingredients in the Future of Food

ice cream product spread
Sponsored by:
Photos courtesy of Unilever
ice cream product spread
Sponsored by:
Photos courtesy of Unilever
Chelsea Choy

Chelsey Choy

Marketing Lead of Ice Cream at Unilever Ice Cream

andrea headshot

Andrea Grimandi

Ice Cream General Manager – Unilever Canada

Unilever Ice Cream’s focus on continual innovation and dedication to sustainability have made it the world’s biggest — and best — ice cream manufacturer.

“Unilever Ice Cream is the number one ice cream company in the world,” says Andrea Grimandi, General Manager of Ice Cream at Unilever Ice Cream. “In Canada, we have a strong portfolio of iconic brands, including Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers, Magnum, Klondike, Popsicle, and the newly-launched Wall’s.”

Unilever Ice Cream does ice cream very well, but its success is about a lot more than ice cream. The company’s winning recipe includes a few of these essential ingredients: leadership in consumer-first innovation, pioneering new ways of business including on-demand delivery, and a longstanding dedication to sustainability.

Ice cream innovation — creating the unexpected

From children to adults, just about everyone loves ice cream. “Ice cream is all about fun and excitement,” says Chelsea Choy, Marketing Lead of Ice Cream at Unilever Canada. “It’s also a category where consumers love discovering new flavours.”

Iconic brand Ben & Jerry’s is a great example. “Ben & Jerry’s unique chunks and swirls are very much loved by our consumers,” says Choy. “Our team of flavour gurus loves coming up with unexpected flavours and combinations to surprise and delight fans.”

Ben & Jerry’s Banana Foster Core joins the extensive line-up of Ben & Jerry’s flavours, now with 28 euphoric flavours to dig into!

Global icon, Magnum, is another favourite, known for its premium Belgian chocolate and for redefining indulgence. Magnum was first to market with its ‘Double’ bars and this year its latest innovation is Duets, ice cream bars twice dipped in two different types of chocolate with added textures for an indulgence like no other.

“Given the rising interest for plant-based options, we also continue to build on our non-dairy portfolio with new and exciting options year over year”, says Choy. New B&J non-dairy flavour joins Unilever’s existing line up of non-dairy products across B&J, Magnum, and Breyers.

Magnum duets ice cream
Magnum Duets, the first ever ice cream bar twice dipped in two chocolates for a one-of-a-kind extra indulgent experience like no other.
B&J Non-Dairy Tonight Dough, one of many non-dairy options for consumers looking for plant-based alternatives – vegan, lactose-intolerant, or flexitarians!

Other recent innovations from the include Popsicle Shakesicles (with nostalgic milkshake flavours), Breyers Canadian Desserts, and the launch of Wall’s.

Shakesicle picture
Popsicle shakes things up with a Shakesicle line-up that is inspired by a nostalgic diner classic.

Celebrating Canada’s diversity — more smiles for more Canadians

In recognition of Canada’s diverse landscape when it comes to culture and people, the Unilever Ice Cream team in Canada tapped into local insights and Unilever’s global expertise around the world to expand its portfolio, launching Breyers Canadian Desserts and Wall’s internationally-inspired line-up.

“With Breyers Canadian Desserts, we wanted to recognize the diversity of Canada and celebrate local taste profiles with a new range that is inspired by classic regional desserts” says Choy. With flavours inspired by like Nanaimo Bar, Butter Tart, Sugar Pie, and Blueberry Grunt, the flavours let Canadians take their taste buds on a road trip from coast to coast.

Breyers Canadian Desserts invites Canadians to a road trip for their tastebuds with flavours inspired by regional desserts coast to coast.

Meanwhile, Wall’s – one of Unilever’s most iconic global brands – launches in Canada with a line-up inspired by international flavours, including Bubble Tea (Taiwan), Ube (Philippines), and Kulfi (India). “About 1 in 5 Canadians are foreign-born with about 60% of immigration in the last 10 years from China, Philippines, and India. We have a unique opportunity to bring different cultures and people together through the shared love of ice cream.” says Choy.

Iconic global brand Wall’s launches in Canada with a line of internationally inspired flavours to celebrate Canada’s diversity through shared love of ice cream.

The launch of Wall’s is a reflection not only of the evolving Canadian population that is growing in diversity, but also taste profiles that are growing more experiential – examples include bubbletea searches growing +566% and ube’s vibrant purple color becoming a viral phenomenon amongst millennials and food culture.

Continual evolution — pioneering ice cream on demand

Unilever has evolved how it reaches its consumers through new technologies via its new online business model, Ice Cream NOW (ICNOW). ICNOW is all about being able to serve more consumers more quickly – when and where they want it – and is enabled through partnerships with platforms like Uber Eats, Door Dash, and Skip the Dishes as well as restaurants like Pizza Hut.

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“We’re evolving the way we do business to better serve our consumers in the age of instant deliveries and instant gratification,” says Grimandi. Unilever’s ICNOW platform was pioneered around on-demand ice cream delivery and connects fans with a network of virtual stores that carry the brand’s most popular products. “This is an exciting space for us as we continue to redefine the way we reach our consumers with new technologies and capabilities” adds Grimandi.

Protecting the present for the future — doing business sustainably and responsibly

Another key ingredient to Unilever’s success is sustainability.Another key ingredient to Unilever’s success is sustainability.

Over the past decade, Unilever has made a number of sustainability-oriented strides and commitments. “We’ve been on this road for many years now,” says Grimandi. “We continue to stretch ourselves in using our scale and platform to do more good.”

From sustainable sourcing, to responsible business practices, to striving to make a social impact (such as the work led by the Ben & Jerry’s Social Mission Team), Unilever is leading the industry in sustainable initiatives.

“With Ben & Jerry’s, for example, we source fair-trade sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and bananas,” says Grimandi. “In doing so we pay a premium, which goes toward protecting the farms we source from and investing in the livelihoods of those communities.” Similar thoughtfulness is applied when sourcing Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa for Magnum and vanilla for Breyers.

All of Unilever’s ice cream products are also made locally at its production facility in Simcoe, Ontario, which runs on 100 percent renewable grid electricity, and where they are celebrating the continuation of a legacy – 100 years of making ice cream in Norfolk County this year!

This is what the future of food looks like — leading sustainably and responsibly.

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