The market for so-called organic or health foods is growing, as highlighted by a 2017 Censis study showing that, in Italy, research into and demand for quality ingredients are both constantly on the increase. Over 91% of the respondents in the study said they choose their food with care, especially using such criteria as functionality (almost 90%) and healthiness (84.6%). Other qualities on which our consumers place great importance are that the products they buy should be sourced in Italy (85.5%) and ethical (83.5%).
As many as 31 million Italians purchase health foods, with nearly 20 million takeaways being ordered online from health-food restaurants. Increasing numbers of small shops selling organic products are opening up, as are the number of organic ranges and products sold in supermarket chains.
There is no doubt that income is a factor when purchasing biological products: indeed, statistics show that there are more buyers of health-food products from families with medium to high incomes than from less wealthy families.
But how far does all of this affect hand-made gelato parlours? Hugely, indeed we have seen an abrupt change, with producers now looking to create products for a health-conscious public, increasingly catering for vegan, gluten-free or lactose-free diets, to name but three of the latest trends expressed by a growing market share. While this means exploring the introduction of original ingredients, it also involves re-assessing and communicating the healthiness of a good hand-crafted gelato. The basic ingredients of hand-crafted gelato, such as milk, provide significant amounts of vitamins A, B2 and others, as well as minerals –especially calcium. Increasingly, in recent years, there have been attempts to use unusual natural ingredients for the gelato sector such as dandelion, linseed, so-called “superfoods”, i.e. foods that in addition to their nutritional properties also have a beneficial effect on one or more physiological functions, with a view to preserving or improving health and well-being, sometimes even helping to reduce the risk of diseases related to certain types of diet "
The most popular superfoods, increasingly used in gelato production, are as follows:
- Blueberries: rich in vitamin C and fibre, they boost the immune system and keep the body active
- Quinoa: a gluten-free food. Magnesium-rich. Contains vegetable protein, phosphorus and iron
- Greek Yogurt: rich in probiotics, it can be used as a cream substitute
- Chia seeds: rich in antioxidants and omega 3
- Tea: a lot of green tea is used, helping to fight free radicals
- Flax seeds: fibre-rich, helping to fight cholesterol
- Acai juice: from a tropical berry that is rich in vitamins and minerals
- Walnuts: rich in vitamin E and minerals