Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery was recently able to chat with Jaylon Rosenblum, marketing director, Schwan's Company, about some trends in the cheesecake and frozen dessert category, and some predictions for the future.
National Cheesecake Day is on Saturday, July 30, and of the $1.6B frozen dessert category, cheesecake represents a sizeable portion of category sales. The $215M market showed a growth of $16.2M in the last year, with 22% of millennial/Gen X buyers purchasing cheesecake. In addition, 53% of frozen dessert buyers fall within the millennial/Gen X demographic.
Liz Parker: What are some cheesecake trends that have been showing up in 2022?
Jaylon Rosenblum: The growth in frozen cheesecake has been building for the past several years, currently representing a $215M market, with $16.2M growth in the last year alone. A large portion of frozen cheesecake surge is being driven by Millennial and Gen X consumers, accounting for 39% of the category growth. The increase in interest from these demographics in particular has been great to see, enabling us to introduce our products to the next generation of Edwards fans. To ensure we’re meeting our customers’ demand, Edwards introduced two new flavors to its Signatures Cheesecake product line in 2021: Chocolate Whipped Cheesecake and Berry Whipped Cheesecake. Together with our Original variety, these new launches have propelled Edwards to +44% growth.
LP: Any predictions for later this year or 2023?
JR: We expect to see continued interest in frozen cheesecake and are bullish to expand into single-serve portions. Edwards buyers are unapologetic about indulgent occasions, but some are seeking portion control to indulge within reason. To meet our consumers’ needs, we’re looking to expand our single-serve frozen cheesecake options, which currently includes our Original Whipped Cheesecake. In the near future, consumers can look to us to grow our single-serve cheesecake offerings with new flavors that mimic our multi-serve portfolio. With the option of having both traditional size and single-serve cheesecake, we are creating an opportunity for enjoyment across many occasions.
LP: Why has the frozen desserts category been experiencing a surge of growth?
JR: During the pandemic lock-down, many people re-discovered—and in some cases, discovered—the frozen food aisle. With restaurants closed, people were looking for quick, convenient ways to feed themselves and their families, and frozen foods, which keep longer than their fresh counterparts, not only answered that need, but also helped limit the number of trips to the grocery store. We’re continuing to see increasing repeat purchase rates, so we believe that consumers’ positive experiences with the frozen food aisle during the peak pandemic underscored that restaurant quality meals and desserts can be found in the frozen food aisle.
There’s also a strong nostalgic pull associated with frozen pies and cheesecakes. The past couple of years have certainly seen an increased interest in comfort foods, as we’ve all been forced to manage major life upheavals. We are proud to provide great products to our consumers and drive cheesecake category growth for our retail partners since 2019.
LP: Why are so many millennials/Gen X-ers purchasing?
JR: While we haven’t conducted any psychographic research on why 53% of frozen dessert buyers fall within the Millennial/Gen X demographic, we think the pull toward nostalgic, comfort foods has played a role. Edwards began selling its frozen, pre-baked pies in grocery stores in the 1960s, introducing individual slices in 1970, when the earliest Gen Xers were young. They, along with many Millennials, certainly remember the joy they felt when an Edwards frozen dessert was unveiled after a family dinner.
LP: Why has the cheesecake category in particular grown so much over the past year?
JR: Cheesecake is a classic dessert that is not tied to any season, offering year-round enjoyment. Depending on the flavor or what you choose to top it with, it can be a delicious, cool, creamy, summer dessert—perhaps for National Cheesecake Day on July 30—or a decadent, indulgent fall or winter treat. Edwards newer Chocolate Whipped Cheesecake and Berry Whipped Cheesecake flavors have captured attention in the frozen dessert case, and the two flavors combined have sold more than 800,000 units through June of this year.
LP: Any new innovations coming up for Schwan’s/Edwards?
JR: We at Schwan’s are always on the lookout for the next breakout flavor or concept for all our brands, including Edwards. In fact, we recently re-opened the doors of our specialty dessert restaurant in Minneapolis’ vibrant North Loop neighborhood—Edwards Dessert Kitchen (EDK)—which serves as a real-world test kitchen to inform our R&D team on the types of flavor profiles and dessert formats that might be winners with consumers. EDK’s executive chef, Jasmine Weiser, not only dreams up fantastical creations at EDK, including Blueberry Buttermilk Cheesecake and Stonefruit Pavlova, but she also serves as a co-creator with our team through our Chef’s Collective. In fact, she collaborated with us on the creation of our Lemon Crème Pie, drawing inspiration from patrons’ positive responses to bold citrus flavors.