Ice cream and Covid-19: Adapting to challenges and creating opportunities

A dairy technologist has given insight into how the Northern Irish ice cream processing industry is adapting to the challenges of Covid-19 in recent months – and what opportunities are to be found in such a situation.

With strict hygiene procedures and regimes, manufacturers have adopted social distancing measures, ensuring businesses can operate safely and whilst meeting the demands of the consumers.

Claire Heron, a dairy technologist at the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), said:

“Shopping local has become a higher priority since the Covid-19 outbreak with consumers becoming more aware of their local businesses.

It has been a difficult period for all food processors; however, some have been fortunate to find new opportunities to adapt to survive within these unprecedented times.

“A number of manufacturers have taken the opportunity to offer a delivery or collection service. This not only satisfies customer needs but ensures that the business can continue to remain active.”

The technologist noted that, as the lockdown continues to ease, more businesses begin to reopen under controlled conditions.

Continuing, Heron noted that, in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, eating more healthily is also increasing in importance to promote overall health and well-being.

Treats like ice cream can be tailored for the more health-conscious consumer by reducing sugar, fat and the addition of protein.

“Food technologists can help ice cream businesses address the technical challenges and opportunities of developing and reformulating ice cream products to meet changing consumer expectations.

“CAFRE’s food technologists are continuing to provide support remotely to all food sectors during the current pandemic,” Heron concluded.