Deliciously non-dairy: the innovation behind Ben & Jerry’s oat-based ice creams

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Overig advies 12/02/2024 15:49
With a growing plant-based portfolio and consumers seeking ice cream experiences as indulgent as dairy, Ben & Jerry’s has reformulated its non-dairy portfolio to use a new, extra smooth oat base. We speak to flavour guru João Piva to find out more.

Ben & Jerry’s is launching a new oat base for its non-dairy ice creams
70 different formulations were tested before a base was chosen that heroes the brand’s signature chunks and swirls
The new non-dairy ice cream base will be rolled out across tubs and scoop shops during spring 2024
Ben & Jerry’s flavour guru João Piva in chef whites, choosing ingredients in a test kitchen
Ben & Jerry’s flavour guru João Piva
Since the launch of its first non-dairy ice cream flavours in 2016, Ben & Jerry’s has been on a quest to ensure its plant-based range gives fans the same premium experience and fun flavours as its dairy ice creams.

Finding that perfect sweet spot is the job of Ben & Jerry’s team of flavour gurus, including Senior Product Developer, João Piva.

During his two years working for Ben & Jerry’s, developing the non-dairy oat base formulation has been his biggest challenge yet.

“It’s been a long journey,” says João. “We’ve trialled and tasted up to 70 different flavour combinations. But we’re confident we’ve created the best-tasting non-dairy base for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream yet.”

The evolution to oat: a dairy-free revolution
In a recent report on vegan ice cream, Straits Research valued the global market at $623.63 million in 2022 and it’s predicted to grow by 5.2% by 2031.

In the space of eight years, Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy portfolio has grown from one to 20 non-dairy flavours, which today account for 25% of the company’s global product portfolio.

During that time, its formulation team have experimented with almond and sunflower bases.

However, tastes and flavours constantly evolve, and the team were keen to find a new base to improve the non-dairy ice cream experience for plant-based and flexitarian fans.

“With almond you can experience a nutty after-taste,” says João. “And as chunks and sauces are a signature of Ben & Jerry’s flavoured ice creams, we were keen to find a base that let our hero ingredients shine more,” he adds.

The team also did a survey among ice cream fans. “Their main flag was texture. They told us non-dairy products could sometimes feel thinner or watery, which meant they didn’t enjoy the same mouth-feel you get from the creamy base of Ben & Jerry’s dairy ice cream,” João explains. “We wanted to find an ingredient that would close that texture gap.”

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