Italian Gelato and Coffee

Establishing a stronger presence in Southeast Asia and Thailand

Date: 17 January 2022. Author: Giacomo Iobizzi

Italy recorded 4.7 million cases of Coronavirus (as of 14 October 2021), representing one of the most affected countries worldwide. The effects have negatively influenced the performances and production in the Food and Beverage industries, sector in which Italy has always been among the global market leaders, causing an important domestic recession which has recorded -40% sales of Coffee and -30% sales of Ice Cream Machineries. However, the Export, has significantly growth in Asia and North America for Artisanal Gelato (SIGEP Observatory 2021), China and Southeast Asia, and Middle East, for ingredients and semi-finished products (+6%), Germany and South Korea are leading for production machineries. In fact, 70-80% of Italy’s total production of machineries and technologies are for Export. Europe and USA remain vital markets, confirming Germany as Italy’s main market, followed by Spain and Poland.

The Gelato industry in Thailand seems to be vigilant and proactive, in fact, according to Mr. Beniamino Francesco Pellin, Partner of Easy Best Ingredients Co., Ltd, “in 2021 we have been able to outperform the previous year (2020), selling more ingredients and gelato bases, produced locally. However, our clientele changed, incrementing the number of restaurants, and lowering the sales volumes generated by the hotels which remain the biggest share in the market. We wish to recover the contracts with the hotels for 2022, and to double our revenue by the end of the year”. Mr. Beniamino who is also importing Italian Coffee, Motta brand, has stated “our sales volumes have remained the same, with no changes in the ratios: 20-30% Restaurants and 80-70% Hotels, recording a big consumption and serving of Espresso and Cappuccino, logically preferred by the Expats and Tourists. Thais, instead, are giving more attention to the origin of the coffee, willing to experience a more ‘authentic’ taste, produced and roasted locally, better if organic or of a special and rare variety. This trend is also driven by the increment of the costs, due to Covid outbreak and the global backlashes. Newer Thai generations are no more consuming tea, if not related to ‘bubble tea’ – the one with the tapioca pearls – because they discovered the adaptability of coffee in any kind of beverage, creating new refreshing drinks by adding ice cubes and syrups or fruit juices.”

A different overview has been provided by Mr. Simone Ruggenini, General Manager of Good Drink 2018 Co., Ltd (Churn Ice Cream brand and distributor of Lauretana mineral water): “Thailand’s forced closing and restrictions for hotels, restaurants and bars have penalized our performances in 2021 which hasn’t registered an impressive growth. We have turned this negative aspect into a pause for us to restart and establish a new concept for the company. We adopted the strategy to ‘diversify our flavors and formulas’ to be more ‘flexible’ and ‘accommodating’, collecting a very good start for this 2022. We are now having success in participating in local (and temporary) Pop-up stores, transforming our gelato flavors offer based on the themes of each event (i.e., Urban Eatery with Italian classic flavors, Garden Blossom theme with local flower-inspired flavors, and so on). Good Drink and Churn have inevitably landed on online platforms to be able to answer the needs of our customers, launching our ‘family’ portion of gelato and our signature’s Brioche al gelato”.

Ms. Philumpa “Aom” Jirasathit, Business Development Manager of Albero Gelato (Italian artisanal gelato) in Bangkok, added that “2021 has registered less sales even if we were supposed to have more. The main reason was a minor traffic of people roaming in the Department Store (where the gelato shop is located). Unfortunately, our Gelato is a product that is not so easy to sell online as people would prefer to experience it directly in our shop or while walking for shopping. Our customers love our gelato, and we are receiving many caring massages and support from influencers and clientele who decided to post their pictures on their social media accounts posing with our cones and cups. We are extremely satisfied of our status, now Albero is becoming a strong brand and, for 2022, we would like to expand the business and open 2 more branches, of course, if the situation will remain positive. In March, we will launch a new flavor which we’ve tested last year, and it was successful, we can’t wait to let our audience try it.”

2021 wasn’t so bad for the Italian gelato machine industry, “Iceteam 1927 – Cattabriga is a manufacturer of ice-cream and gelato machines. We have a Rep. Office in Bangkok and a sale and service network. Due to improvement of the sanitary situation, we have register in Thailand a +15% turnover. Majority of customers are semi-professional operators, doing gelato for online sales. We expect a further growth in 2022 based on re-opening of stores” insisted Mr. Emanuele Franchi, Resident Manager – Asia Pacific of IceTeam 1927.

Regarding the Coffee Industry in Thailand, the panorama is not showing revolutionary results for the sale volumes as Ms. Kornchasa “Sandy” Thonglairuam, Senior Sales Manager of Bon Café Thailand and distributor of Segafredo Zanetti, has shared with us: “in terms of consumption, Bon Café has recorded -20% of sales due to Covid-19 effects on Hotels and Restaurants -the group main market is HORECA- especially in touristic areas/cities like Phuket, Chiang Mai and Samui”, however, the company “has been able to grow in the Retail market thanks to its loyal customers who have kept consuming and ordering online, recording an increment between +20-30% of sales through online platforms and website. Nonetheless, Segafredo in October-November 2021 has also launched its own retail cans, available at convenience stores nationwide, 7Eleven, in Thais’ favorite flavors: Americano and Latte.”

The situation above-mentioned shares some similarities also with Illy Thailand, Mr. Gian Carlo De Cesare, Director Thailand – Illy Caffe’ (distributed by Italasia), has stated that “Illy has certainly grown (+40%) in 2021 if compared to 2020 but it will require more time to resume the sales volume of 2019. Illy recorded +200% sales from online channels (especially for machines and coffee capsules) while sales volume for HORECA hasn’t shown important progresses. From February 1, 2022, Illy will also increase of 15% its price list due to global increment of raw materials, logistic costs, and foreign exchange rates (USD to THB). A trend of +15% sales from online channels is supposed to be performed for the following months.” Furthermore, Mr. De Cesare will launch in 2022 “OraSì, a new ‘100% Made in Italy’ vegan beverage (plant-based available in Soy, Almond, Hazelnut, Walnut, Oat and Rice) that will complete the bar offer for both professional and amatorial spheres. The new product is supposed to compete with other existing products on both digital and retail sectors but will not fear to fail because of its Italian origins and excellent qualities”.

Regarding the import of Italian Coffee machines, Ms. Phattama “Pat” Wanalaijaroenjit, Executive Assistant at Caffa Coffeemaker, “2021 has suffered if compared to 2020, our sales volumes and channels have remained stable: 80% B2C and 20% B2B, with a small increment for retail. However, our company is specialized in machines, blenders, and grinders, providing to our customers also coffee grains (sourced locally and/or imported) that we are roasting in our factory in Chiang Rai.”

In addition, ASSOLATTE (Italian Dairy Association) confirmed a positive trend in 2021, growing double-digit in Italian dairy exports in USA (+25 %), Poland (+22 %), Belgium (+18 %), France (+13 %). Among the specialties, the most exported products were Mascarpone (+38 %), Provolone and Pecorino (both +20 %), Mozzarella (+12 %) and Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano (both +6 %).




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