Italy has already reached +10%, but quality must be protected, safeguarding an icon of Italian-made food.
From the heart of the Gelato World Cup at Rimini’s SIGEP an initiative by three great Italian gelato makers 2017 trends: alongside the classics, the heat stimulates flavours linked with the sea, such as lime, mango and ginger…
Among the classics, pistachio is rising.
From master confectioner Rinaldini there’s Affresco, a crushed-ice drink with fresh fruit, in three variations: Michelangelo, Caravaggio and Raffaello
Photo: Italian artisan gelato "zabaglione of Vinsato", Sergio Dondoli, Gelateria Dondoli (San Gimignano, Tuscany)
With a torrid summer, gelato is a hot seller. The mid-summer figures are very positive. The SIGEP Observatory (the world’s leading artisan confectionery expo, the 39th edition of which is scheduled from 20th to 24th January 2018 at Rimini expo centre and organized by Italian Exhibition Group), estimates a rise in artisan gelato consumption of around 10% thanks, among other things, to a particularly sweltering summer season, in which the growing demand for quality is not cooling off.
It is no coincidence that the World Wide Gelato Foundation was founded recently, exalting the quality and educational aspects that should be the goals of all those wanting to play a significant role in the artisan gelato product chain in Italy and worldwide.
The promoters of the WWG are Giancarlo Timballo, president of the Gelato World Cup, which is held at SIGEP every two years, Sergio Colalucci, internationally famous gelato master and world champion at SIGEP in 2006, and Sergio Dondoli, of the Cup’s organizing committee, nominated Master of Arts and Crafts by Italian president Mattarella. Together, they have a hundred years’ experience in making artisan gelato.
Giancarlo Timballo, “2017 is going down in history as one of the most torrid summers of recent years. The great heat stimulates us to create flavours increasingly linked with the sea, Caribbean sun and exotic destinations. There is thus an increase in the use of lime, ginger, mint, coconut, passion fruit and mango.... all products that are marvellously refreshing on the palate. This search for innovation, which involves the selection of top grade raw materials, is a positive factor for the artisan gelato trade, which is dynamic and growing rapidly.”
A return to good healthy Italian tradition is the message from Sergio Colalucci; “Rather than increasingly extravagant flavours, the market wants gelato that is well made, natural and healthy, and respects food allergies, for example. Our gelato production consists mainly in classic flavours - pistachio is the absolute top seller - and “without” flavours are increasing fast, from those without milk and milk by-products, to those without egg, or those with ingredients of vegetable origin, also chosen because they are more digestible. This demand, which is growing incessantly, stimulates the entire trade to systematically improve product knowledge and quality.”
Close bonds with the local area are the key to success according to Sergio Dondoli: “The current market’s winning combination is artisan work and the territorial nature of ingredients. One flavour that has become a great classic is based on a typical Tuscan product, San Gimignano’s PDO saffron, which is not well known today, but in the 1300s was sold all over Europe, and was even exported to Egypt. Rosemary’s Baby flavour, based on raspberries and rosemary, has the scents of the Mediterranean and life in the Tuscan countryside.”
A refreshing quality proposal arrives precisely from Rimini, SIGEP’s homeland: for the torrid 2017 summer, master confectioner Roberto Rinaldini proposes “Affresco”, a crushed-ice drink based on entirely natural fresh fruit concentrate (70%). Four innovative flavours with historical names, resulting from the search for quality ingredients incessantly carried out by the award-winning Rimini master artisan: Michelangelo (strawberry with a scent of vanilla), Raffaello (melon and mango with a scent of orange), Leonardo (lemon and lime with a scent of mint) and Caravaggio (passion fruit and peach with a scent of tonka beans).
Quality, quality, quality
As said, quality is the password: Giancarlo Timballo traces the product chain’s common denominator to this key element: “For at least 15 years, just to give significant period of time, the entire artisan gelato trade concentrates on product quality. It must be remembered that the cone sold in a gelato parlour is the last link of a quality chain that is entirely involved. Knowledge, technology, ingredients and service: everything is in this logic. Gelato makers’ professional culture has a very high level, consumer demand is increasingly aware and, to remain on the market, standards must be constantly raised.”
Sergio Colalucci, a key player every year in training courses in Italy and worldwide agrees: “I pass the winter meeting gelato makers and entrepreneurs and I must say that there is no longer a demand that leaves quality out of consideration. The world is hungry for Italian artisan gelato – we see this at SIGEP and in our day-to-day experience. We must be able to inform that the secret is making use of a product chain entirely made in Italy, from fresh to semi-finished products, through to training and technology.”
Is there a risk of imitation? “A very high risk”, confesses Sergio Dondoli. “Around the world there are machines and products of varied origin with which it is impossible to make good gelato. Italian gelato makers, increasingly proactive and professional, have technical knowledge and know how to transform ingredients into a product that is unbeatable worldwide. We must insist on protecting our entire product chain, which is able to attract investments in Italy and throughout the world. Where? Far East, Eastern Europe, Anglo-Saxon countries, led by the United States, where we see there is a really extraordinary demand for knowledge.”
Gelato is conquering the world’s markets
Gelato is now an international term, so is no longer translated (like pizza, pasta or espresso), is a splendid feather in the bonnet of that all-Italian culture of high profile artisan skill which meets with wide admiration and growing success round the globe. The quality and commitment of professionals and companies are the most solid means for safeguarding Italian-made gelato. The world market of Italian gelato has a current value of over 15 billion euros, with an average annual growth of 4% between 2015 and 2018. Extremely positive signs of growth can currently be seen in the East, from China to Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, to Australia (Source: PWC).
New, interesting opportunities are also opening up in the United States: according to Euromonitor and Mintel data, Italian gelato represents approximately 5% of the 14.3 billion dollars of the American gelato market, with a projection of sales growth reaching 32.3% this year.
Ice Cream World Cup
Figures are growing thanks to a skilful combination of professionalism, artisan care and respect for quality. The confirmation arrives from the Ice Cream World Cup, which is staged every two years by Gelato e Cultura and IEG.
In January 2018, SIGEP will host artisan gelato’s top professionals from Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, France, Spain, Poland, Japan, Switzerland, Morocco, USA, Australia and Ukraine. Italy will not take part, as the rules exclude the current champions’ participation the year after their win.