Gelato gets a boost from lockdown: numbers are up and new flavours are appearing
Covid or no Covid, the world of gelato seems to be immune to crisis. In fact, during lockdown, many of us were forced to change our eating habits, and gelato was one of the sectors to benefit from that. Last year, the sector generated sales of 4.2 billion euros (FIPE data) and, according to a survey by Just Eat, saw a massive increase in approval ratings (which were up a whopping +133%). Artisanal gelato is now viewed by 79% of consumers as a food product prepared using fresh, traceable ingredients, a factor that is proving essential in the post-pandemic world, as are services that comply with regulations on hygiene and safety. Consequently, many parlours have organised themselves to provide ready-to-eat single servings, with tubs made from eco-sustainable materials, one example being Pasticceria Martesana, in Milan, which this summer has launched a series of single-serving cups of artisanal gelato.
As activities gradually resume, business models look set to change. Starting with the fact that while meals and break times are getting faster on account of the need for social distancing, the space available for gelato will be getting bigger and bigger. But for everyone – including artisanal concerns – the real challenge will be how to ride the changes that delivery services and digitalisation are bringing with them. And that is exactly what the historic Gay-Odin Chocolate Factory has done, launching an app (alongside its comprehensive e-commerce website) to step up its food delivery service at a time when home deliveries are enjoying a veritable boom: from the start of lockdown up to today, according to Deliveroo data, the increase in orders nationally has been in the order of 60%, which translates as a 100% rise on an annual basis.
However, the new normal will also affect flavours. Alongside the classics (hazelnut, chocolate, strawberry…) we will now start to see other types of gelato that feature a “crunchy” element, products designed for those who are lactose intolerant and a range of sweet-and-savoury combinations. For this year’s summer season Stefano Guizzetti, a gelato maker and owner of Ciacco, has created a series of flavours based on the scents of the Mediterranean scrub: juniper, basil, rosemary and thyme. Other experimental studies have focused on gastronomic gelato, such as mussel-flavoured sorbet, designed to be enjoyed with fresh vegetables in season.