Innovative Flavor Ben & Jerry’s Oat-Based Ice Creams, a Deliciously Dairy-Free Option

Ben & Jerry’s: Crafting the Perfect Non-Dairy Experience with Oat-Based Ice Creams

Since introducing its first non-dairy ice cream flavors in 2016, Ben & Jerry’s has been committed to offering fans the same premium quality and exciting flavors in its plant-based range as in its dairy offerings.

Senior Product Developer João Piva and the flavor team at Ben & Jerry’s have been dedicated to perfecting the non-dairy oat base formulation, a challenge that has taken two years of rigorous experimentation.

“We’ve tested and tasted over 70 different flavor combinations to ensure we’ve created the best-tasting non-dairy base for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream,” says João.

The Shift to Oat: A Dairy-Free Revolution

With the global vegan ice cream market valued at $623.63 million in 2022 and forecasted to grow by 5.2% by 2031, Ben & Jerry’s has expanded its non-dairy portfolio from one to 20 flavors in just eight years, constituting 25% of its global product lineup.

Experimenting initially with almond and sunflower bases, the team sought a base that would enhance the non-dairy ice cream experience, addressing concerns such as nutty aftertastes and texture issues reported by consumers.

“After surveying ice cream fans, texture emerged as a key concern,” explains João. “We aimed to find an ingredient that would bridge the texture gap between dairy and non-dairy ice creams.”

In collaboration with Unilever’s science and technology teams, Ben & Jerry’s US team, and flavor formulators, João spent a year investigating ingredients to enhance body and texture in the new non-dairy base.

“The best innovations arise from curiosity and asking ‘what if’ questions,” says João. “We meticulously tested various combinations to understand the role of each ingredient in creating a superior ice cream.”

Challenges and Triumphs in Flavor Innovation

During development, tastings began early, with precautions to ensure palates remained sharp. The team knew they had a winning recipe when the oat-based ice cream offered a smoother, richer texture, appealing to the eyes and taste buds alike.

Consumer focus groups confirmed the success of the new formulation, with vegans, vegetarians, and flexitarians expressing enthusiasm to repurchase.

“Flexitarians appreciate the experience we deliver with our non-dairy ice cream, rivaling that of dairy options,” says João. “This success allows us to continue innovating and exciting consumers across all our platforms.

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