Brits love Italian food – and they are not alone. According to a YouGov global survey of 25,000 consumers from 24 countries, Italian cuisine was the most well-liked, with 91% of Brits stating that they liked it.
For food manufacturers, the UK’s import market continues to present opportunities even post-Brexit. Britain imports around 46% of the food it consumes according to UKRI, and in 2022, Italian food and beverage products shipped to the UK went up 8.3% in value year-on-year to £3.5bn ($4.45bn).
When it comes to ready meals, 63% of British consumers admit that they would purchase such as an alternative to having a takeaway, according to Mintel’s latest research. A greater focus is also being placed on authenticity and nutrition, with 27% of shoppers stating they would purchase a dish that is nutritionally complete and 50% claiming they would increase their trust in a product if further details about its preparation are available.
Rachelli, the Italian premium organic dessert brand from Emmi, is aiming to tap on all these trends and more with two types of tiramisu. Launching in more than 160 Waitrose stores, two variants – Tiramisu Classico and Tiramisu Amaretto – will vie for the attention of shoppers in what is an increasingly crowded market. The brand says, however, that the market for products that offer ‘an authentic taste of Italian indulgence’ is underserved in major retailers and wants to ‘own the dine-in occasion’ by establishing itself as the preferred premium Italian dessert brand in the UK.
“Rachelli will answer current white space in the market for premium desserts with a truly authentic heritage which, given established demand for this taste of Italy, consumers are willing to treat themselves with,” Amanda Burningham, head of marketing – desserts, at Emmi UK Ltd, told us.
“Further research shows that people are still keen to indulge in little luxuries in affordable ways, which Rachelli aims to offer an option for; in fact, the brand identity and positioning that brings its heritage to life with whimsical and nostalgic visuals further speak to this.”
The Tiramisu Classico offering is made with 100% Arabica coffee, mascarpone cheese, Sardinian ladyfingers and Italian marsala wine, while the Amaretto version features Amaretti biscuits, Mascarpone cheese, Sardinian ladyfingers and Italian Amaretto liqueur. The desserts are stored in all-glass cups topped by plastic lids and enveloped in a cardboard sleeve. The packaging is 100% recyclable.
Burningham said the consumers worries about the rising cost of living ‘are looking to create more meaningful mealtime occasions at home that make them feel like they are dining out’ – and Rachelli is aiming to tap into that.
Asked what evidence the company has on demand for chilled premium desserts at a time when cash-strapped consumers are trading down on branded goods, Burningham said: “Currently we are seeing that the continental desserts segment is a key driver within the Chilled Dessert category, adding £4.5m in absolute growth in the last 12 months. We also see premium dessert brands driving a third of all branded growth, encouraging shoppers to increase spend per trip.”
Addressing why the brand would appeal to shoppers who already have plenty of options in the premium chilled desserts segment, Burningham said: “Although there are other premium dessert brands on the market, Rachelli is based on authentic heritage, from a small pasticceria in Milan to the EU-wide speciality chilled dessert market leader it is today. We feel these clear proof points: Italian-born and made, quality ingredients and authentic expertise clearly demarcate Rachelli within the market as the brand offering consumers ‘a spoonful of Italy’.”
To achieve its objective, Emmi has set out a two-year roll-out plan to grow the brand, including through introducing new formats and heritage recipes in the fresh dessert category. The launch is targeting consumers from the higher-middle and upper class, and Emmi is looking at a wider retail launch and further product releases in October 2023.
“It’s early days, but we’ve seen a positive reception overall: initial sales are in line with what we’re seeing in terms of premium brand outperformance against the overall category,” said Burningham.
“Brits’ love for tiramisu continues to soar, with the segment growing 11.4% year on year to be worth £30m/$38.3, yet the category has seen little in the way of new innovation and is dominated by private label - 85% vs overall dessert category with is 62%,” she said. “We see an opportunity to reinvigorate real excitement around this much loved classic, with the introduction of new tiramisu recipes and formats, as well as introducing some less well-known Italian classics to the UK consumer.”
Besides the UK, the brand is available in Germany and Italy, where it leads in the organic frozen desserts segment. The company sources its dairy products from suppliers in Italy, we were told, according to product quality and authenticity.