Most ice cream is purchased by the consumer on basis of flavour and ingredients. There are many different flavours of ice cream manufactured, and to some extent limited only by imagination. Vanilla accounts for 30% of the ice cream consumed. This is partly because it is used in so many products, like milkshakes, sundaes, banana splits, in addition to being consumed with pies, desserts, etc.

It is the ice cream manufacturers responsibility to prepare an excellent mix, but often they put the responsibility of the flavours and ingredients on the supplier.

US Ice Cream Consumption by Flavour, 2010
                                          percentage of volume

1.     Vanilla                                 28.8
2.     Chocolate                            14.3
3.     Bakery/cake/cookie             13.6  
4.     Chocolate chip / other choc   8.6 
5.     All nut flavors                        4.7
6.     Strawberry                             3.3
7.     Neopolitan                             2.5
8.     Coffee                                    1.6
11.   All other flavors                   22.6

Source:  Dairy Facts, 2011, International Dairy Foods Association

Ingredients are added to ice cream in four ways during the manufacturing process:

  1. Mix Tank: for liquid flavours, colours, fruit purees, flavored syrup bases Ð anything that will be homogeneously distributed in the frozen ice cream.
  2. Variegating Pump: for ribbons, swirls, ripples, revels
  3. Ingredient Feeder: for particulates - fruits, nuts, candy pieces, cookies, etc., some complex flavours may utilize 2 feeders
  4. Shaker table: for large inclusions

Generally, the delicate, mild flavours are easily blended and tend not to become objectionable at high concentrations, while harsh flavours are usually objectionable even in low concentrations. Therefore, delicate flavours are preferable to harsh flavours, but in any case a flavour should only be intense enough to be easily recognized. Flavouring materials may be:

  1. Natural
  2. Artificial or imitation
  3. Blends of the two