Gelato in Europe around the World

Gelato in Europe around the World

Artisanal gelato is now a global product, in which Europe has always played the lead role. Indeed, gelato parlours can be found in 76 countries, on all continents, but Europe is well ahead of the pack. The European countries with the most gelato parlours and highest consumption of artisanal gelato are Italy, Germany, Spain and Poland, but figures are rising in others, such as Austria, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Distribution is also increasingly widespread in Eastern European markets.

Europe currently numbers over 65,000 points of sale employing over 315,000 staff.

Increasingly higher amounts of hand-crafted gelato is being sold here, and in 2018 this accounted for sales of 9.5 billion euros (up 5% on the previous year), which is a 60% share of the world market.

Even though the fastest growth rates are happening in Spain (+4%) and Poland (+6%), Italy continues to lead the world, both in numbers of outlets and sales, with 39,000 gelato parlours (10,000 specialist points of sale plus 29,000 bars and pastry shops offering hand-crafted gelato) which employ about 150,000 staff and generate turnover of 2.8 billion euros, some 30% of the European market. Next comes Germany which has some 9,000 gelato outlets (including 3,300 parlours selling only gelato) – around half of them (4,500) are Italian-owned, giving work to 20,000 people, half of whom are of Italian origin. There are 2,200 seasonal gelato parlours, and whereas the season used to run from March to October, today’s timeframes are longer, with the season now lasting 9 to 10 months and by February staff are being recruited for the whole season. There are good numbers of hand-crafted gelato parlours in Spain (2,200), Poland (2,000), the UK (1,100) and Austria (900), followed by Greece (680) and France (450).

As for the rest of the world, outside Europe, there were about 43,000 gelato parlours in 2016 in such nations as Argentina, United States and Brazil, as well as growing Far Eastern markets such as China, Korea, Malaysia and Australia, where the large Italian community has introduced hand-crafted gelato throughout the country. In terms of turnover, it is estimated that, globally, sales of artisanal gelato in 2018 were around 16 billion euros (up 6% over 2017).



The huge success of the Italian artisan gelato supply chain has been based on combining tradition with innovation, creativity with technical expertise, and quality ingredients with state-of-the-art equipment. The role played by trade fairs and training schools, which over the years have helped thousands of would-be gelato makers, has also been key.

As well as total sales and number of gelato parlours, Italy also leads in terms of ingredients and semi-finished products for gelato, which, according to the SIGEP Study Centre, in 2018, saw 65 companies generating total turnover of 1.8 billion euros (800 million of which was made up of semi-finished products for gelato).

There is a huge variety of such products, ranging from bases to fresh fruit concentrates and oilseed pastes (such as hazelnut or pistachio) and for decorations.

A 2018 analysis by Unione Italiana Food revealed that this supply chain has a considerable impact on purchases of agri-food products – about 250,000 tons of milk, 70,000 tons of sugars, 23,000 tons of fresh fruit and 32,000 tons of other raw materials, often top-quality, smaller-scale Italian agricultural products. For example, to make hazelnut hand-crafted gelato, one of the most popular flavours among consumers, every year ingredients manufacturers purchase nearly 1,800 tons of shelled Piedmontese hazelnuts (about 30% of the harvest of the Tonda Gentile Trilobata variety goes to Italy’s gelato parlours) as well as over 3500 tons of hazelnuts from elsewhere. As for Bronte pistachios, another flavour with many admirers across Europe, around 1500 tons of pistachios are purchased, accounting for around half of total production in Bronte.

Finally, Italy is also a world leader in the manufacture of machinery and showcases for gelato parlours. It is an industrial system made up of 13 machinery companies that control almost 90% of the world market, with a turnover of 229 million euros, along with 11 showcase manufacturers turning over 252 million euros.



108,000: gelato parlours across the globe

65,000: gelato parlours in Europe

16 billion euros: global sales in 2018

9.5 billion euros: European sales in 2018, accounting for 60% of world sales

4-6%: mean annual growth of the European market between 2017 and 2019

315,000: staff in Europe

150,000: staff in Italy

9,000: gelato parlours in Italy

9,000: gelato parlours in Germany

2,200: gelato parlours in Spain

2,000: gelato parlours in Poland

 1,100: gelato parlours in the UK

900: gelato parlours in Austria

680: gelato parlours in Greece

450: gelato parlours in France

4.48 billion euros: turnover of the Italian artisanal gelato supply chain

2.8 billion euros: sales of gelato in Italy in 2018 (accounting for 30% of European sales) +5%: growth in consumption of hand-crafted gelato in 2018

481 million euros: sales by manufacturers of machinery and furnishings for gelato parlours

90%: global market share held by Italian manufacturers of gelato machinery

24: manufacturers specializing in gelato parlour equipment and furnishings

800 million euros: sales by manufacturers of ingredients and semi-finished products

65: companies specializing in ingredients and semi-finished products with a turnover of almost 2 billion euros

125,000 euros: exports generated for Italy by every gelato parlour that is launched abroad

Rome: the “queen of gelato”, with 1,409 specialist gelato parlours employing 4,286 staff (1)


Sources: Acomag, AIIPA, Coldiretti, Confartigianato, SIGEP Study Centre, Uniteis e.V. - Union of Italian Gelato-makers in Germany.

Gelato in Europe around the World
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