Italian gelato booms: over 100,000 gelato parlours open around the world


Global turnover in the sector reached €15 billion in 2016, €9 billion of which in Europe alone. Strong growth in South East Asia, led by China, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia. Italy is the world leader in the industry. 

It’s one of Italy’s most popular food products, but it’s not only in Italy that gelato is growing in ways that until recently would have been unthinkable: there are now over 100,000 gelato shops around the world, often started up by Italians, with global turnover surpassing 15 billion euros in 2016 and average annual growth of 4% from 2013 to 2016. In Europe alone, gelato sales amounted to 9 billion euros, with Italy, the homeland of hand-crafted gelato, making up 30% of the European market, with gelato sales amounting to 2.7 billion euros.

In 2016, Italy, Germany, Spain, Japan, Argentina and the United States were still the main markets in terms of numbers of gelato parlours and Italian gelato consumption. However, the geography of gelato is changing, with South-East Asia at the forefront: China, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Australia have recorded the highest growth rates and currently look to have the greatest potential for further development. This development is to a great extent down to the opening of new gelato parlours but also to the increasing numbers of bar, restaurant and hotel chains that have chosen to put Italian gelato onto their menus, exploiting the new high-tech production innovations and functional ingredients which Italian SMEs are making available. Italian ingredients are often also used to make frozen yogurt, a big hit in the United States and the Far East

This worldwide consensus is largely linked to the innovative capacity of a supply chain that has been able to promote and export a great Italian tradition, a hugely popular product throughout the world.  We thank the creativity of craftsmen, the machinery and equipment manufacturers, and the ingredients producers, not forgetting trade shows such as SIGEP, and the training schools, which over recent years have welcomed thousands of potential gelato-makers from Italy and elsewhere.

Internationally, the figures make interesting reading: In 2016, Europe had over 60,000 gelato parlours, 39,000 of them in Italy (10,000 pure gelaterias and 29,000 bars and pastry shops selling gelato). Germany has 9,000 gelato parlours, of which 3,300 are pure, while Spain has 2,000. In South America, Argentina and Brazil lead the field, with 1,500 and 500 gelato parlours, respectively. There are over 950 gelato shop in the United States, billing 270 million euros (32.5% growth) making up a 5% share of the total frozen dessert market (including ice cream, frozen yogurt etc.).  In 2016, China overtook the US as the world’s largest gelato consumer, in over 1,000 gelato parlours, surpassing 300 million euros in sales, and accounting for 5% of total frozen desserts consumption. With its 500 gelato parlours and a market share of 0.4%, Japan is the only Asian market where Italian gelato consumption is stable.

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