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How Covid has changed the Italian coffee market

Artisan Gelato, pastry and bakers expect a recovery. The green light for e-commerce, but with proprietary platforms. For FIPE, more attention for economic aspects and training. NPD Group: in 2021, out-of-home food consumption will be less frugal and more hedonistic. From Rimini Pastry Queen Sonia Balacchi, Romagna loaf cake flavoured chocolates under the Christmas tree. And Rome world champion Morrone launches roast chestnut flavoured gelato

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RIMINI, Italy – Sweet foodservice for 2021 aims at taking off again with new crossovers, more refined quality, digital technologies and diversified distribution strategies. The Observatory of Sigep (Italian Exhibition Group’s International Trade Show of Artisan Gelato, Pastry, Bakery and the Coffee World), in an “expanded” edition at Rimini expo centre from 15th to 17th March 2021 and, with a digital agenda, also on 18th and 19th March) confirms this in its customary pre-Christmas report.

According to Matteo Figura, Foodservice director, NPD Group Italia, “Home delivery will also increase, while functional eating, i.e. meals eaten away from home for work reasons, will be partially replaced by experiential eating. The average bill will increase: people will want better quality in their gratifying food: an accessible luxury. We shall be less frugal and more hedonistic.”

For Roberto Calugi, director, FIPE Confcommercio, “The restaurant and bar sector has a turnover of 90 billion euros, with 320,000 companies and 1.3 million employees. After the pandemic, to recover professionalism, it is necessary to leave the kitchen and have greater managerial ability, cook slightly less, paying more attention to balance sheets and boosting companies’ assets.”

Claudio Pica, general secretary of the Italian Gelato Makers Association, sums up, “The aim is to limit losses in turnover and hope that other companies do not close; then, we must improve our delivery procedure and not leave it to the large platforms. How must we react to the crisis? Mixing the genres of pastry and gelato, always improving their quality. It’s time to communicate the excellence of our products.”

Eugenio Morrone, 2020 gelato world champion with a sales outlet in Rome, confirms, “Delivery platforms eroded our margin, so we launched our own service: the clientele is there and responds if the work is organized. Gelato makers must innovate – always. As far as gelato is concerned, we are proposing a new persimmon and finger lime caviar flavour and a winter Christmas roast chestnut flavour.”

For Giancarlo Timballo, president of the Gelato World Cup and gelato maker from Udine, “At Christmas, those of us who have managed to win the loyalty of a local clientele and put in work on the social networks, enabling potential clients ‘eat with their eyes’ have a head start over the others. The palette of flavours has been widened, with the addition of apple and cinnamon, which bring strudel to mind, gingerbread and the ‘speziale’ flavour with butter, cream, cardamom and star anis. We propose a mandarin and pistachio semifreddo cake with red icing, the Christmas colour.”

On the pastry front, history’s first Pastry Queen, Sonia Balacchi from Rimini, imagines an intimate 2020 Christmas, characterized by optimism for a better future after the pandemic, and launches her “Serendipity” and “Hope” chocolates: “In a gift package, three balls made from three types of chocolate, containing three surprise traditional Italian sweets, such as for example Romagna’s ciambella loaf cake with creamy gianduja gelato or ‘granny’s’ Tiramisù.”

Roberto Rinaldini (Academy of Italian Master Pastry Chefs) says, “It will be a complicated Christmas, but we are facing it with the outlook of entrepreneurs. We opened a new workshop in July, which handles all our online orders, and a new Horeca network. For Christmas, we are preparing eight different types of traditional ‘panettone’ Christmas cakes and an artisan pandoro cake with five different dough mixtures.”

Ex World Pastry Cup champion Luigi Biasetto has expanded his e-commerce activity: a click is sufficient to place an order and the cake arrives in 12 hours anywhere in Italy. Tutorials on healthy ingredients are arriving and material not respecting the environment has been stopped. “For Christmas, we are proposing a limited edition saffron or marron glacé panettone and savoury panettone with tomato confit and basil cream, also excellent with an aperitif.”

Bakery is also updating and innovating. Roberto Perotti, President, Richemont Club Italia, “Production figures are now moving well on the e-commerce channels that several of our members have set up. Last year, some shops had already sold out their artisan panettone before mid-December.”

Once of the sectors hardest hit by this crisis is that of the bars. Prize-winning champion barista Francesco Sanapo provides some figures, “The pandemic reduced the sale of roasted coffee to bars by between 50 and 70%, while coffee shops report a drop of 80% in takings for cups coffee. In the contrary, there was a 100% increase in e-commerce. The pandemic created space for American coffee, in the paper cups used for cappuccino and filter coffee.”