Ice Cream Research

American ice cream manufacturers employ more than 23,000 Americans and contribute more than $9 billion to the nation’s economy. Although their flavors and fans may be different, the companies all face a common problem: Millions of pounds of nutrient-rich ice cream co-product is discarded after production because no technology exists to capture it. Despite their efforts, the companies haven’t found a viable solution. They estimate almost 5% of the raw materials end up as waste, and it’s costing them millions of dollars a year in lost product and disposal fees. 

Our Position

IDFA believes companies could save and reinvest that money in new hires and products with the development of novel, industry-wide solutions. That’s why IDFA asked for – and received – federal research funding for USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to help. The FY2019 and FY2020 Agriculture Appropriations bills provided $1.5 million ($3 million total) for ARS to research how to recover the co-product and keep it from going to waste.

Pilot with Potential

Fortunately, ARS has the expertise to find innovative solutions and develop sustainable uses for production co-products, because it’s done the same for other food products. ARS is working closely with IDFA and members to move the research project forward. It’s possible the results may be useful to makers of other dairy products in helping to reduce their product waste and costs.


In partnership with IDFA members, ARS has gotten to work, using the initial dollars to purchase the necessary equipment and hire necessary staff. ARS has toured multiple ice cream plants with IDFA staff and established a research plan. This continued funding will allow for the research to begin in earnest in 2020.

For more information, contact Donald Grady, IDFA director, legislative affairs, at

Staff Contact

Donald Grady

Senior Director, Legislative Affairs