Gelato goes to the conquest of Asian and North-American markets

A map of the most dynamic international markets for Italy's most iconic cold dessert. Chains are growing +6% as export estimates in early 2021 predict double-digit growth
Gelato goes to the conquest of Asian and North-American markets

Asia and North America are the new frontiers of artisanal gelato. This is confirmed by the Sigep Observatory – the International Exhibition of Artisan Gelato, Pastry, Bakery, and Coffee of the Italian Exhibition Group, whose 43rd edition will be held from January 22 to 26, 2022 in Rimini.

Exports of ingredients and semi-finished products travel the routes of China and South East Asia and also grow in the Middle East. Three-quarters of gelato production machinery is also heading abroad, with a recovery in the German market and an exploit in South Korea.

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Export sales of ingredients for artisan gelato in 2019 grew by 6% compared to the previous four years, aiming above all at the East. “Gelato is chasing the good season at all latitudesRoberto Leardini, president of the Gelato Products Group of Unione Italiana Food says – so this is why we are recording an important growth in the Middle East, a trend that started before the pandemic. China and Southeast Asia markets are still in their infancy, however, signals of interest are arriving from there. Their potential is enormous despite the still very low number of gelato parlors”.

The United States and Europe are very vital markets. “The European market totals about 60% of our production volumes. Spain is the third European market, after Germany, for artisan gelato, whose potential is linked to the tourist economy. The Polish market is also interesting” – Leardini says.


Between production machines and refrigerated display cases, 75% of the Italian production of professional technologies for gelato parlors is for exports. The current year is showing positive signals in this regard, above all from Germany and South Korea. Carpigiani, a leading company in the sector, is a good example as it is growing precisely in the Far East. “In 2020/2021, machinery exports – declares Achille Sassoli de Bianchi, Market Development Director of Carpigiani SpAreached 90% of our total production in value terms. The foreign countries where we are seeing the best results are South Korea, the USA, and the UK”.


Another parameter for measuring the internationalization rate of Italian artisanal gelato comes from the conversions between enrolments in professional specialization courses and new commercial openings. Carpigiani monitors these for its Gelato University. “In the 2018/19 academic year – says Kaori Ito, director of Carpigiani Gelato University – we registered 6,000 enrollees in courses at the 20 campuses around the world, including 2,500 at the one in Bologna. Considering the 1,350 enrolled in online courses between September 1, 2020, and June 17, 2021, and those in in-person courses resumed in June, while the UK, USA, and Canada remain in the top ten there is definitely a boom in India, Turkey, and Malaysia.”

A point of sale of Venchi parlors chain


Following monitoring conducted on the Top International Gelato Chains network – says Antonio Verga Falzacappa, founder of Sistema Gelato which accompanies the major players of the artisan gelato supply chain in their internationalization – with over 600 points of sale in 30 countries, in the last 18 months a positive balance of +6% has emerged, equal to 36 units on a global scale. Noteworthy is the dynamism expressed by brands such as the American Gelato Go, with solid Italian roots, and then the Italian companies Venchi and La Romana, growing in the Far East and the Middle East respectively. These are important signals for Made in Italy because, according to our estimate, for every opening of a sales point abroad we have a knock-on effect of over 500,000 euros over a ten-year period, including machinery, display cases, equipment, and ingredients for our supply chains”.

La Romana-Gelato
La Romana chain
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