Gelato growing globally despite pandemic

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

SIGEP returns to Rimini in January, 2022.
SIGEP returns to Rimini in January, 2022.

Related tags Ice cream pandemic Sigep

Asia and North America are the new frontiers of artisan gelato, according to the Observatory run by SIGEP (Italian Exhibition Group’s International expo of Artisan Gelato, Pastry and Bakery and the coffee world).

The group said the export of ingredients and semi-finished products to China and South East Asia is expanding, and is also growing in the Middle East.

In 2019, the export of ingredients for artisan gelato rose by 6% compared to the previous four-year period, SIGEP said.

Roberto Leardini, president of the Gruppo Prodotti per Gelato of Unione Italiana Food said, ”Gelato is ‘meteoropathic’, following good weather at all latitudes, this is the reason for the important growth we have had in the Middle East; a trend that began before the pandemic. China and South East Asia are dawning markets, from which signs of interest are arriving, and with an enormous potential in spite of the number of gelato parlors still being very low.

“The US and Europe are showing signs of vitality. The European market accounts for a total of approximately 60% of our production figures. I wish to mention that Spain is the third European market, after Germany, for artisan gelato, the potential of which is linked with the tourism economy. Poland is also interesting. What is needed now is well-organized supported promotion, starting from the ITA Italian Trade Agency and reaching the companies, passing through the Chambers of Commerce,”​ he said.

Between production machinery, refrigerated counters and display cases, 75% of the professional technology manufactured in Italy for gelato parlors leaves the country, and SIGEP said 2021 showed positive signs from Germany and South Korea.

Marco Cavedagni, president of ACOMAG, the association that unites the Italian manufacturers of machinery for gelato parlors, said, “In Italy, our sector got a boost from the incentives for Industry 4.0, but we are coming out of a period in which, between 2019 and 2020, on average, we lost between 30 and 35% of the production. The sentiment for the first half of 2021 is positive, we expect a double-digit leap, with Germany being very dynamic.”

Achille Sassoli de Bianchi, market development director of Italian company Carpigiani SpA, added, ”In the year 2020/2021 the export of machinery reached 90% of the value of our output. The foreign countries in which we are achieving the best results are South Korea, USA and the United Kingdom. Italy is also going through a particularly positive season.”

Another measure of artisan gelato’s internationalization rate is the conversion of registrations for specialist professional training courses into the opening of new sales outlets. This is monitored by Carpigiani for its Gelato University.

Kaori Ito, director of Carpigiani Gelato University, said, ”In the 2018/19 academic year we recorded 6,000 enrolments on the courses at our 20 campuses throughout the world, 2,500 of which were in the one in Bologna. Of them, 12%, i.e. approximately 300, replied to our survey question “Where are you now?” confirming that they had opened a point of sale. For the 2020/21 academic year, we counted enrolments for the online courses proposed by the Bologna campus because the aggregate datum of the other campuses between closures and re-openings due to the pandemic is not yet complete.

Of the 1,350 who enrolled for online courses between September 1, 2020, and June 17, 2021 and those for the ‘in-person’ courses which began again in June, we noted that, although the UK, US and Canada remain in the top ten, there is definitely a leap in India, Turkey and Malaysia. The reasons for this leap are to be found in the accessible cost of the online courses, a large offer of courses in English, the overcoming of the difficulty in obtaining a visa for entering Italy or even just bearing travel costs.”

Antonio Verga Falzacappa, founder of Sistema Gelato, which supports the major players of the artisan gelato chain in the processes of capitalization and internationalization – with over 600 points of sale in 30 nations, said, “From a monitoring carried out on the Top International Gelato Chains network, in the last 18 months there has been an increase of 6%, equal to 36 units at world level. If we bear in mind the fact that these investments, between direct openings and franchises, are planned at least a year in advance, it can be concluded that if the pandemic had not occurred, the sector’s growth would without doubt have been even higher.

“Worthy of note is the dynamism of brands such as the American (but with solid Italian roots) Gelato Go, and the Italians Venchi and La Romana, which are growing respectively in the Far East and the Middle East. Lastly, there is the case of Spain’s Borgonesse, which has about ten points of sale between Madrid and Andalusia, with a strong managerial imprint, and which intends differentiating its presence beyond its national borders. These are important signs for Italian-made products because, from our nostra estimates, for every point of sale opened abroad, over a ten-year period, there is a knock-on effect of over €500,000 in machinery, showcases, equipment and ingredients for our production chains.”

The 43rd edition of the SIGEP trade show will be held at the Rimini expo centre in Italy from January 22-26.

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