The cold shoulder for Arctic Roll: Major supermarkets abandon traditional Christmas treat as demand plummets
Retro classic dessert Arctic Roll has been given the cold shoulder by Britain”s shoppers despite increasing demand from hard-up families for cheaper puddings, a new report showed yesterday.
Following a slump in sales of the 1970″s favourite, three of the four biggest high street supermarket chains have removed the iconic ice cream and sponge cake logs from their freezers.
The Birds Eye Arctic Roll staged a comeback three years ago at the end of 2008 and its relaunch came to symbolise the appetite for retro food as the credit crunch began to bite throughout the UK.
Short-lived comeback: Bird”s Eye relaunched their Arctic Roll in 2008, but the cheap dessert has since fallen on hard times
But the latest research shows that the old frozen Yuletide favourite has fallen on hard times as sales and listings in leading supermarkets crash.
Trade magazine The Grocer reports that after being delisted by Asda and Tesco the roll has now been axed by Sainsbury”s. Only Morrisons and Waitrose still stock the dessert.
After a ten-year absence, the ice cream roll returned to stores in November 2008 aimed at thrifty shoppers and supported by a 3 million marketing campaign.
Within months it was stocked in all the major supermarkets and industry experts thought its combination of nostalgic charm and low cost – it was priced at around 1.99 but could regularly be snapped up for just 1 on deal – would make it a winner with recession-hit shoppers.
But the comeback has since faltered. After a 36 per cent fall recorded last year the decline has accelerated this year with sales down 38 per cent year-on-year to less than 4 million, according to data from market analysts Symphony IRI.
Unsustainable: Experts say that lasting nostalgia, like that which attracts shoppers to arctic rolls, is very difficult to maintain
David Ware, head of grocery at Symphony said that increased competition may have taken its toll on the brand.
“Premium desserts have become cheaper and as the downturn climate lingers, shoppers have moved to other alternatives” he told The Grocer.
Birds Eye told the magazine that it still saw a future for the brand – at least for the next year – although it admitted volumes had dropped even when sold on promotion.
“We have recently appraised the product and found that it enjoys a consistent level of weekly sales,” said a spokesman for Birds Eye.
“We have orders from some retailers in the UK and for export that will last for 2012 and beyond.”
But branding experts said it was no surprise that Arctic Roll was in decline as retro products typically followed a pattern of peaking soon after launch and then slowly declining.
“Comeback positioning is not sustainable,” said Sally Kay, consultant at branding agency The Value Engineers.
“Lasting nostalgia is very difficult to pull off. For Arctic Roll to be sustainable it needs to create a more distinctive and relevant positioning.”