Catering equipment buyers from restaurant and pub chains are snapping up kit to produce high quality gelato as they latch onto the sales opportunities of this increasingly popular dessert concept in the UK.
The UK has traditionally been an ‘ice cream’ market, but improvements in machine design and the prospect of being able to create signature flavours with relative ease are encouraging operators to explore gelato production.
Scott Duncan, sales director at Carpigiani, the world’s largest maker of commercial ice cream and gelato machines, says that big chains are taking the opportunity seriously.
“Some of the pub groups are really starting to look at it now. What the chains were frightened of with artisan gelato was they thought it could be quite labour-intensive and obviously you need a level of skill to produce a gelato. But we have been able to show the ones that we are working with that it is a lot easier than they think; you just pour the product inside and the machine does everything.”
Historically with older machines, operators had to watch the product and judge when the recipe was ready, but improvements in the design of the equipment mean the latest machines will automatically deliver the perfect consistency, says Duncan.
“I think we are quite early on in the product cycle for gelato in the UK, but we are hoping that the chains start to take it on now. We are already seeing it in the pub sector, where two or three of the chains that were historically all about soft ice cream are now introducing gelato.”
At its headquarters and factory in Bologna, Italy, Carpigiani operates its own ‘Gelato University’ where gelato entrepreneurs can undergo a comprehensive training programme in gelato production.
In the UK, the Ali Group-owned company runs a one-day gelato course that takes place monthly in Edinburgh, London and Hereford.
Carpigiani estimates the global market opportunity for gelato machines is currently €120m (£85m).
The company’s own sales, which include soft ice cream, frozen yoghurt and milkshake machines, topped €160m (£115m) last year, including its sister company Electro Freeze in the US.