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Sigep 2023: an overview of the dolce foodservice supply chain

Gelato, pastry, bakery and coffee in the spotlight to take stock of the current situation and provide the industry with insight. Artisan gelato on the upswing after two years of uncertainty. Pastry: Italians are doing without. The ritual of coffee at the bar saved from high prices

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RIMINI, Italy – A sector that innovates, looks beyond borders and grows. This is the dolce foodservice industry, which finds its most complete representation at Sigep – The Dolce World Expo, Italian Exhibition Group’s show dedicated to artisan gelato, chocolate, pastry, bakery and coffee (coming soon at Rimini Expo Centre from 21st to 25th January 2023).

At this edition, Sigep will be accompanied by AB Tech Expo, whichh focuses on technologies and machinery in the bakery sector, from storage to dough and processing.

Artisan gelato in recovery after two years of uncertainty: summer sales up 24%

After two years of uncertainty and reduced consumption (-53% in 2020, +25% in 2021), 2022 saw a positive trend in the artisan gelato sector, with a significant recovery. The summer marked a return to pre-Covid levels with increases of more than 30% in the Central Southern regions and 18% in the Central Northern regions, with an overall national growth of 24%.

On the basis of these results, it is estimated that the artisan gelato turnover for 2022 could be even higher than the 2.8 billion euro recorded in 2019, achieved by the approximately 39,000 points of sale throughout Italy, subdivided into gelato parlours, pastry shops and bars selling artisan gelato.

Specifically, almost 30,000 are bars which sell gelato and the remainder are exclusively gelato parlours. As far as the latter are concerned, Rome is in first place with 1400 businesses, followed by Naples (933 gelato parlours), Milan (783), Turin (732), Salerno (529), Bari, Brescia, Palermo, Venice and Catania. Direct and indirect workers are estimated to be over 77,000 units.

The artisan gelato supply chain

The sector is at the base of a complex supply chain, comprising various activities, the main ones being raw materials and ingredients and the machinery and furnishings industries. The upturn in consumption that began in 2021 and continued in 2022 has also breathed new life into the ingredients industry, which is expected to end the year with a turnover of more than 680 million euros.


The segment is controlled by some fifteen industrial companies. These are joined by smaller, artisan-based companies for an overall total of around eighty companies, employing more than 2,000 people.

On the other hand, 13 companies manufacture gelato machines, some of which are undisputed world leaders, placing Italy at the top of the sector and with a high level of exports (over 60%). The total turnover in 2019 was 259 million euros.

The production of display cabinets and furnishings for gelato parlours involves 9 companies with a total turnover in 2019 of 267 million euros.
Sources: AIG/Italian Gelato-makers’ Association – ACOMAG – UIF/Confindustria

Desserts: celebratory desserts ever popular and consumed

Celebratory desserts know no crisis nor inflation. At traditional festivities, Italians never go without putting a panettone, pandoro, Easter cake or chocolate eggs on the table. To be precise, panettone is still the favourite cake for the Christmas festive season, although the number of consumers willing to buy it throughout the year is on the rise and exceeds 38% of the total.

During the first post-Covid Christmas in 2021, panettone cakes worth 251.6 million euros were purchased, of which 53% were generated by the artisan segment. Volume figures were also positive, amounting to 29,000 tonnes of panettone, of which 21% artisan. And the number of families buying the cakes grew by about 400,000, amounting to 11.3 million in 2021.

Things went well again in 2022. According to pre-consumption data, which confirm the forecasts, Italians have not given up shopping, keeping their spending substantially unchanged compared to previous years.
According to a Nielsen survey, 58% of families declared that their budget has remained unchanged, while 33% revealed that they consumed more for food and gifts and other things. On the other hand, 31% were more cautious and trying to limit their spending.

After a certain slowdown in the two years of the pandemic (-30% in 2020 in the middle of the lockdown), the dessert purchase recovery trend was also confirmed at Easter, with around 31 million chocolate eggs and 25 million Easter cakes consumed over the Easter period.

Online purchases also appear to be on the rise for artisan products, especially on the producers’ own websites (pastry shops, bakeries, etc.).

While the demand for artisan desserts appears to be recovering, tensions remain high in regard to production costs caused by increases in raw material and energy prices.

In the first half of 2022, cereal prices increased by 43.6% and other pastry and confectionery ingredients rose by about 40%. Increases that companies have tried to absorb as much as possible by limiting the impact on customer prices. Specifically, in the first four months of the year, the average increase in retail prices was 2.5%, in line with the 2.3% increase in 2021.
Sources: Nielsen – IRI – Confartigianato

Coffee: consumed by 95% of the Italian population

Demand for coffee is also growing. Forecasts made in November 2022 by the International Coffee Organisation (ICO), as far as production is concerned, estimate that a total of 167.2 million sacks will be produced by the end of the year, a drop of 2.1% compared to the previous year, while estimates for world consumption show a growth of 3.3%, a discrepancy that calls for reflection on supply and prices. In Italy, coffee is still one of the most popular beverages. According to the European Coffee Report, 95% of the Italian population habitually consumes it (European average 91%): 1 out of 2 Italians at breakfast, 4 out of 10 during breaks, while a fifth drink it to end their meal.

Data from Nielsen for 2021 show that consuming coffee at least once a day at a bar is a habit shared by 45% of the peninsula’s inhabitants. In November 2022, Fipe carried out a nationwide survey to check whether the cost of out-of-home consumption had risen sharply in recent months, highlighting how the price increase compared to the previous year was entirely contained (5.8%), well below the general inflation rate, which at the time of publication of the survey stood at 8.9%. Along the peninsula, the average price of a cup of coffee oscillates from €0.90 to €1.30.

Focus on Sigep E A.B. Tech Expo 2023

Dates: 21-25 January 2023; Organization: Italian Exhibition Group SpA; editions: 44th Sigep and 7th A.B. Tech Expo; frequency: annual; event: international trade show; entry: trade only; info: www.sigep.it

Focus on Italian Exhibition Group, the organiser of Sigep

Italian Exhibition Group S.p.A., a joint stock company listed on Euronext Milan, a regulated market organised and managed by Borsa Italiana S.p.A., has, with its facilities in Rimini and Vicenza, achieved national leadership over the years in the organisation of trade shows and conferences. The development of activities abroad – also through joint-ventures with global or local organisers, in the United States, United Arab Emirates, China, Mexico, Germany, Singapore, Brazil, for example – now sees the company positioned among the top European operators in the sector.


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