Gelato is gaining momentum as one of the hottest trends in Australia, but what drives this indulgence? Recent market research has found that while exotic and traditional flavours play a huge role in choice factor and are a purchase driver for gelato shoppers, other trends have emerged in building a competitive edge.
In recent interviews with top Gelato Chefs in Australia, today’s consumers are not only after superior quality, but formulations that meet dietary needs (non-dairy formulations, low-sugar recipes), and all natural ingredients for the environmentally and health conscious. This latest health trend is directly correlated with the vast amount of consumers committing to leading healthier lifestyles. With the shift moving away from processed ingredients towards plant-based, along with refined flavour palettes, this has brought a whole new dimension to the gelato world.
What is imperative to the positive growth of gelato? The ability to stay ahead of the current trends and adapt to cultural surroundings. These key elements will lead to the essence of a great gelato. One in which tantalizes every flavour profile while keeping it all natural, and leaving us consumers savoring every second of the gelato experience and wanting for more.
Interview with John Crawl
Q: What current trends are you seeing for gelato in Sydney, Australia at present?
A: The utilization of fresh seasonal and a focus on flavours and spices related to Native Australia. Native Indigenous fruits, spices and leaves are becoming more popular with chefs, pastry chefs, and gelato chefs. I believe these native flavors are not only trending in Australia but also around the world with each country having something special to offer their consumers.
Q: What is the current trend you are seeing with regards to flavours?
A: While traditional flavours dominate the sales in the gelateria, these traditional flavours we all like, and are familiar with are being challenged with the introduction of infusions of tea, herbs and spices. Gelato “Lemon Myrtle’’(Native Australian leaf of the lemon Myrtle tree) is an example of one of the flavours at Cow and the Moon that achieved Gold medal in the Sydney Royal Dairy and Cheese Awards earlier in the year.
Q: What do you believe is aiding the trendsetting in Australia and across other parts of the world?
A: Social Media is playing a huge role in setting trends all around the world. Trends may work in one country and may not in another. However, social media can inspire us to think out of the square and help us adapt, create passion, and also fuel enthusiasm within our own country/market.
Q: What are some suggestions for young inspiring Gelato chefs?
A: I believe it is important for the gelateria/gelato chef to believe in themselves and think creatively about quality and vision. My advice to young inspiring gelato chefs is to follow your dream, be open minded, believe in yourself and your passion, listen and learn, and to be leaders not followers.
Take the opportunity to travel around the world as I did, learn from other peers in the market; attend gelato education schools as I did. A few years ago there were guest Gelato Maestros from Carpigiani that would arrive every year or two in Australia. The gelato chefs both new and existing would all attend for ideas on improving the quality of their gelato.
Today the internet world has opened up a variety of options to existing and aspiring gelato chefs to be champions in their own right.
Interview with Simone Panetta
Q: What are the trends you are seeing in the Gelato business in Melbourne, Australia?
A: We’re definitely seeing some clear trends emerging, both in flavours and in produce. You’ll find that a lot of gelaterias are putting quite a big emphasis on the ingredients and products they use for their gelato. For example, we’ve always been obsessed with making the best gelato we can, using the best ingredients we can get our hands on. Not only do we make all our gelato from scratch, bake and create all our additions which go into the gelato, we’ve gone one step further and have started farming our own produce.
As the main ingredient in our gelato is milk, we thought it was only fitting that we purchase our own Dairy Farm. We’re super proud to say that all our gelato is now made with Jersey milk from our farm in Numurkah, Victoria (Australia). In addition to this, we’ve also embarked on a journey of growing hazelnuts (which is slightly longer term) and have been working with an amazing farmer in Dural to grow strawberries.
In terms of flavours, you’ll find that anything that evokes nostalgia is a crowd-pleaser. In particular one of our most popular specials is our Fairy Bread gelato, which is our take on an Australian childhood treat.
Q: Has the interest for gelato increased in the last few years?
A: Absolutely, from being a single site gelateria to now having 21 stores across Australia and our recent venture in Hong Kong, there is still a humbling amount of demand for us to open in locations where we don’t have stores.
We’re also seeing quite a lot of other providers opening up in recent years, boasting products which try to replicate a traditional gelato feel with pastes and gels purchased from overseas.
Q: Are there any differences between Italian and Aussie consumers? What are the Aussie consumers looking for?
A: We’ve found that the Australian consumers enjoy more robust flavour profiles, different varieties in flavours, and are also impartial to some savoury notes. Our biggest seller in our classics range is our Salted Caramel Gelato with White Chocolate Chip Gelato. Whereas an Italian consumer would have a finer palate, rather than experimenting with too many different flavours.
There’s also a rise in awareness from Australian consumers who not only care about, but encourage the use of sustainability, and are also interested in the origin of their produce.
Q: Any suggestions for a young Gelato Chef who wants to move to Australia?
A: The most important thing is to ensure that you’ve sorted your visa and get a Working Holiday Visa. Once you have this, be prepared with the right attitude to work. It won’t be a holiday, it will be a proper working experience.
There are plenty of opportunities in the hospitality industry in Australia right now. For us, we’re always on the lookout for people who have Pastry Chef or Gelato Chef experience. In addition to this, it’s also essential that you study English prior to arriving. If you’re not able to communicate, it will be hard to find the job that you’re after.
Interview with Ferdinando and Lisa Bellini
Q: What are the trends you are seeing for gelato in Sydney, Australia?
A: The trends we have noticed for gelato in our area in Sydney is that our customers have started to realise and appreciate the importance of fresh high quality gelato, and in our case we see our customers wanting gelato made with real ingredients (no artificial colours or preservatives added). They also come to us as they see Nando has a passion, and is always creating new flavours all the time. It is also getting busier for gelato cakes, and in our case the customer is allowed to customise their cakes out of the weekly flavours.
Q: How has gelato changed in recent years and has that impacted Gelato in Australia in particular?
A: In our experience gelato has changed a lot. Customers are now understanding what is good gelato and what is commercial gelato. I believe to make an excellent gelato we must source the best ingredients. I can see in Australia the mentality of gelato is changing. People are watching what they eat and they tend to go to places using more natural ingredients. 15 years ago, in my opinion in Australia there were a lot of very commercial style gelato places. Now there are many new styles opening up. We are always working on our techniques to develop the best natural gelato possible.
I decided to go to natural gelato as personally I did not like the way a lot of gelato was being made here. I wanted to show the customers gelato is very important in Italy and I wanted to show customers this natural fresh style of gelato which is what I like to eat when I look for a gelato. I keep away from artificial gelato. I attended various natural gelato schools in Italy and from there I created the recipes which suited me and my customers. It is always a work in progress as we are always trying new techniques to make our gelato the best. It’s very important to keep learning and not just sell the same old recipes.
Q: What are the main differences between Italian consumers versus Australian consumers and how do you cater to other consumers with various dietary needs?
A: We find the Italian consumers are harder to please. Italian consumers know that gelato has Italian traditions and our older consumers know what good gelato is. We have so many older Italians who try our gelato and come back as it brings back some memories for them. We really appreciate that. The Australian consumers are also expecting the best quality and fresh natural ingredients as this is the current trend moving forward in Australia.
It’s very important as well to understand what is in the gelato as so many customers have so many allergies. Making the gelato the way we do natural is great as we can reassure our customers about all the ingredients etc. and it’s not just a ton of flavouring. We always tell customers there may be traces of allergens but at least we know what is going into our gelato.
Q: What is your best advice for someone starting out in the gelato industry?
A: My recommendation is to understand the passion and direction of the gelato you want to try to create. Choose the right learning school and keep challenging yourself. Never stop learning new ideas and remember it will be long hours in the laboratory, but you will be rewarded when customers come back and thank you for your gelato.
Interview with Matteo Zini
Q: What current trends are you seeing for gelato in Brisbane, Australia at present? How is La Macelleria keeping up with these trends?
A: I can see a lot of experimenting with new flavours and gelato combined with other products. In my businesses for example, I like to experiment with native Australian ingredients such as Wattle seeds, Pepperberry, Strawberry gum etc. At La Macelleria, we like to come up with new flavours every week. In my new concept in Sydney called “Zini Contemporary Gelateria” (@zinigelato for Instagram and FB) I will combine my gelato with other products and in different ways. Different types of Affogato to enhance the specialty coffee culture which is very important in Australia. We will offer our gelato also along with pastry, pancakes, etc.
Q: Has awareness of gelato grown in Australia and describe your personal trajectory with your start in Australia?
A: I can see that in the last 3 to 4 years there has been an increase in the opening of new gelateria which is synonymous with more awareness about real gelato (10 years ago there was more ice cream) and more demand from the consumer. We decided to start in Brisbane because in 2013 (the year we moved to Australia) there were barely any pure gelateria in the city, and also because it has the perfect weather for gelato (it is basically hot all year long).
I did all my training with Iceteam 1927 following the lead of Maestro Giacomo Schiavon. Since I moved to Australia I’ve been collaborating with Iceteam being their Ambassador and consultant for South East Asia/Australia and New Zealand. I keep experimenting and being up to date keeping constant contact with my colleagues back in Italy and exchanging ideas, recipes and know-how.
Q: What trends in Australia do you see in particular when it comes to flavour and how does this differ from Italy?
A: I can see that Australians are very open to novelty. They like to try and experiment with new flavours. In Italy we always been very traditional in terms of flavours (Pistacchio, Nocciola, Stracciatella always been the best sellers) and menu, but I can see that in the past few that it is changing and also in Italy there is more open mind about trying new and different things.
Q: What is your best piece of advice to someone who is interested in starting in the Gelato industry?
A: For sure, if you want to be different and be able to produce a unique offer you need to learn the craft and the magic of gelato making, from the chemistry to the numbers and the business side. I think it’s important to invest in training at the start.
Try out outstanding original recipes of the protagonists of Australian Gelato on Frozen Art Chef, in the recipe’s area!