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Operators everywhere have had to get creative with their menus to offer options that work just as well at home as they do on-site. That may lead some to believe that they should only focus on foods that are traditionally seen as “traveling well,” like salads and sandwiches. That's not the case, though, especially when it comes to desserts. While ice cream may not seem like an easy fit for takeout and delivery, it's actually the perfect choice for operators looking to hit customers in the literal sweet spot.
You may be surprised to discover that those who order delivery most often actually count ice cream as their most-loved dessert.1 Couple that with the 2020 NPD At-Home study2 that found that desserts are consumed at home 470% more than appetizers at dinner, and you've got a pretty sound case that customers who order delivery the most are clamoring for more ice cream options. The trick is in adjusting your products so that they work specifically well outside of your dining room. Because we know consumers have and will continue to embrace delivery and takeout even when the pandemic ends.3
Obviously, the biggest challenge with any ice cream dish is its time sensitivity. Nobody sets out to create ice cream soup, but if you're not careful about temperature control, that's exactly what's going to arrive at your customers' doorsteps. Trusting third-party drivers in the summer months is especially hard, so how can operators beat the heat and deliver satisfying ice cream desserts at the same time? It all comes down to dairy science.
If you're able to bring the temperature of your ice cream as low as possible, you won't have to worry as much about your product melting. To achieve that, prescoop your ice cream into takeout containers and assemble your signature ice creams ahead of time, then use your coldest freezers to bring the products as cold as they can get as quickly as possible. Quick-freezing eliminates the formation of ice crystals on your ice cream, and the deep freeze will provide a little extra temperature flexibility during transport. The International Dairy Foods Association recommends ice cream be consumed between 6ºF and 10ºF, affording you the cushion you'll need between the time it comes out of your subzero freezers and when it shows up at your customer's home.
While most of us think of ice cream as a treat best enjoyed immediately, there's a certain satisfaction in enjoying restaurant-quality ice cream desserts at home that go beyond the prepackaged pints consumers are accustomed to from the grocery store. If you can successfully adjust your storage temperatures before sending your ice cream specialties on the road, you'll be able to achieve a higher level of profitability and increase customer satisfaction at the same time. Increased demand for takeout and delivery options are here to stay, so operators that are able adjust to our new realities are in the best position to reap the rewards. With creative ice cream desserts on-the-go, those rewards should be very sweet.
1Datassential 2021 Take Home Study
2NPD At Home Study, 2020
3Datassential COVID-19 report 48: NO LETTING UP 3.12.21