The ice cream market is divided into 3 main groups:
1 - Soft
The soft ice cream is produced by machines like those used by McDonald's. It is a light ice cream and therefore needs to be made and served on time.
2 - Artisanal
The artisanal ice cream is made in a more elaborate way, usually with natural ingredients, being exposed in display cases and served in scoop format. Its durability is superior to the soft ice cream in order to be exposed for a short period of time.
3 - Industrial
The industrial ice cream is produced on a large scale and distributed in super markets and various commercial spots. Its durability is high because it needs to resist several steps of distribution to the point of sale.
The basic difference between these three types of ice cream is the structure of its formulation. The longer the duration of validity of the ice cream, the greater the structure must be and this is basically done by increasing fat and stabilizers in their formula.
As a general rule, we can say that the soft ice cream has a simpler and lower-fat formulation. The artisan ice cream is richer in natural ingredients and can have medium or high levels of fat. The ice cream with high fat content receives the name "premium".
Finally, the industrial ice cream must have a fat content from medium to high and also a composition for a longer shelf life, hence also more chemical additives are needed in the formula.
The Soft Ice Cream
Regarding the manufacturing process, the soft ice cream is produced in small cylinders under a fast beating process, so it can leave the machine quickly and be served. To incorporate air in this kind of ice cream, air pumps are necessary to pressurize the cylinder during the beating process. A single machine is capable of producing soft ice cream and there is no need for knowledge about ice cream formulations, because ready mixtures can be easily found in the market, so the soft ice cream is widely offered by stores which are not exactly from ice cream business.
The Artisanal Ice Cream
The artisan ice cream is beaten in larger cylinders and its beating process is more elaborate, with natural incorporation of air (without air pumps). There is the possibility of inserting solid ingredients and fruit pulp in the process, in addition to producing small quantities of each flavor.
This requires knowledge about ice cream formulations by the artisan, for it is this art that results really different ice cream. To produce the artisan ice cream at least one pasteurizer and a batch freezer are required.
The Industrial Ice Cream
The industrial manufacturing process uses various stages of production so that the mixture is thoroughly homogenized and stabilized in order to enable a long shelf life of the product.
As for the granulometry and balance of components, industrial ice cream is the most accurate and rigorous.
The quality of the three kinds of ice cream, soft, artisanal and industrial is measured by the ingredients and processes used in their production, in addition to the inherent requirements of hygiene and product reliability. Therefore:
a soft ice cream can be made with less expensive ingredients and less fat, resulting in a "sandy" and less tasty ice cream. On the other hand if we increase the fat content and enrich the formula with most consistent ingredients (and as a rule, more expensive), the soft ice cream can also become a higher quality product. However, the beating process is not as elaborate as the ice cream produced by an artisan ice cream machine.
The artisanal ice cream can also be made with simple ingredients or much more elaborate, with a beating process that only artisan ice cream machines have, resulting in the most flavorful and creamy ice cream that can be produced. The percentage of air contained in the product is not very large and is incorporated naturally.
The industrial ice cream, which can also be produced with less expensive or more sophisticated ingredients, has a beating process that aims to increase the incorporation of air in the mixture at a much higher level than obtained by an artisan ice cream machine. This is necessary because the industrial ice cream needs to keep low production costs in order to allow a certain margin necessary for distribution and resale of the product.
the three types of ice cream can be produced with high quality ingredients and manufacturing process, but only the artisan ice cream can achieve what we call the qualitative differential.