Swirl’s Ice Cream has launched black ice cream to the food market in the Netherlands. As of last Friday (April 6), ice cream lovers have been able to get a taste of the international ice cream hit. Not only the ice cream but also the cone in which the ice cream is served is entirely black. The ice cream, which has a familiar vanilla taste, will be available for a limited time and exclusively sold at Swirl’s Ice Cream.
While social media appears to be playing a huge part in the natural color trend, food colors are also opening up the opportunity to deliver products that connect bright colors and health. Innova Market Insights has reported a +14 percent CAGR in food & beverage launches tracked featuring food colors from 2012 to 2016 amid a “Say it With Color” trend. At the same time, a +14 percent CAGR has been reported in new food & beverage launches featuring contains “natural colors”/”natural concentrates & extracts” claims (2012-2016, global). For several years, we have been seeing products marketed on color platforms and the trend is showing no signs of slowing down.
A variety of ingredients that naturally dye foods black or are naturally black also contribute to new flavor profile or claim to add health benefits. Activated charcoal claims to have absorbent/detoxifying properties, adds a light gritty texture to food. For example, black rice is more nutritious than white rice and brown rice with antioxidants and vitamin E. Black sesame allegedly helps control cholesterol and is a source of magnesium and calcium.
Black ice cream is featuring prominently on social media all over the world, but until now it has not been available in the Netherlands. Tjerk van der Linden of Swirl’s Ice Cream believes that black ice cream will be popular with consumers looking for new eating experiences. “Black food is visually attractive and a lot of people are looking for new ways to stand out and share pictures of exciting food concepts, on social media,” he tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
“With this new black ice cream, it appeals to all consumers, and we are seeing that consumers are interested in new taste experiences. We know that millennials are more adventurous when it comes to trying out food and new food experiences, so we expect a lot of attention from younger millennials,” he notes.
“The black food trend has been very visible internationally for quite some time now. We’ve seen black hamburgers, black macarons and even black pasta. We are very proud to be the very first to introduce black ice cream to the Netherlands. We’ve seen amazing examples from the US and Asia and expect that Dutch people will run to our Swirl’s shops to get a taste,” says van der Linden.
The black color of this ice cream is created by adding a plant-based black carbon powder, made from coconut shells. This powder is used in various food innovations and is a 100 percent safe. The powder is tasteless, ensuring the ice cream keeps it delicious and familiar vanilla taste.
This also fits within plant-based food trends: “Charcoal is plant-based and comes from the husk of a coconut,” van der Linden notes. “The formulation is the regular soft ice cream mix for white vanilla ice cream and then we add active charcoal, which completely safe for use in food. It is being used in many types of food products lately. It has a low concentration of charcoal but it gives a very dark black color, so it works perfectly for this type of food application.”
“I assume that charcoal can be used in other products in the dairy space, such as other ice cream flavors and we expect to see some other black products entering the food market,” he adds.
Van der Linden also noted that there had been a lot of attention for this concept within the Unilever company, and also from others in the market. “The industry has seen this be successful so far, we are getting a lot of attention for this and other markets within Unilever are showing interest in how it works and we will likely see them come on board with this new color concept, in the future.”