Gelato is a style of ice cream that was originally produced in Italy. Gelato is literally “ice cream” in Italian. It is created through a base of cream, milk, and sugar, then flavored with various fruits, purees, and various flavorings.
There are some differences between gelato and the American concept of ice cream. For starters, gelato is made with a larger proportion of whole milk to cream, so it can have up to 50% less fat in the product when compared to ice cream.
Gelato has less air whipped into it as well because it is churned slower than ice cream is churned. That makes it a denser product. Ice cream may contain up to 50% air, whereas gelato may contain just 25%-30% air in the final product. That allows it to be served at a slightly warmer temperature, so it feels closer to a soft-serve ice cream than a chunk of frozen ice cream product.
Important Gelato Industry Statistics
#1. The gelato industry in the United States currently generates $2 billion in revenues annually. For the 5-year period ending in 2017, the industry was able to achieve an average annual growth of 3%. (IBIS World)
#2. About 5,000 businesses are currently involved in the gelato industry that is based in the United States. They are responsible for the employment of more than 55,000 people in direct opportunities. (IBIS World)
#3. When included with the overall ice cream market in the United States, gelato accounts for about 5% of the total $14.3 billion market share. (Forbes)
#4. With more than 50 different varieties of gelato, Haagen-Dazs is one the world’s largest sellers of gelato products. They sell more than $400 million in product annually. (GelatoGo)
#5. The average American will consume more than 23 pounds of ice cream products over the course of a year. (International Dairy Foods Association)
#6. More than 1.5 billion gallons of frozen desserts, including ice cream, were produced in the United States in 2015. (International Dairy Foods Association)
#7. More than $39 billion is contributed to the U.S. economy through the sale and production of ice cream and related frozen desserts, such as gelato. That means more than 180,000 people have jobs because of what frozen dessert manufacturers are able to provide. (International Dairy Foods Association)
#8. Two-thirds of gelato products are marketed regionally by small frozen dessert manufacturers. Just 16% of ice cream or related products are marketed nationally in the United states. (International Dairy Foods Association)
#9. In 2016, 43% of American consumers stated that they purchased gelato, which is up from 39% from the year before. (Mintel)
#10. Growth in the gelato industry segment of the ice cream has slowed since 2012-2013, when it achieved a growth rate of 247%. In 2014-2015, the industry achieved a growth rate of 41.7%. In 2015-2016, the growth rate dropped to 32.3%. (Mintel)
#11. Although sales have increased by 6% overall for the ice cream industry as a whole, the total volume of sales that have occurred has declined by 5%. The gelato industry is the only segment which has achieved consistent levels of growth from 2011-2015. (Mintel)
#12. The value of U.S. product shipments within the frozen dessert category is about $8.07 billion. The size of the global ice cream market, however, is about $75 billion. (Statista)
#13. More than 118,000 gallons of frozen dessert products are manufactured in the State of California each year. (Statista)
#14. Vanilla is the most popular flavor of frozen dessert produced in the United States, accounting for 28% of industry sales. Chocolate flavors continue to be the second-most popular product, achieving 14% of industry sales. Specialty flavors, such as chocolate chip or strawberry, can be as high as 3% annually. (Chron)
#15. Gelato is part of a 10% consumption category that includes water ice, frozen yogurt, and sherbet in the United States. Ice cream sales account for 90% of consumer preferences within the industry. (Chron)
#16. In the United Kingdom, the retail share of frozen desserts is dominated by Tesco, accounting for 27.1% of all sales. This is followed by Sainsbury’s at 15.2% and Asda at 13%. (Statista)
#17. More ice cream is consumed in the District of Columbia, per capita, than any other location in the United States. Rhode Island and Wisconsin take the other spots in the Top 3. (International Dairy Foods Association)
#18. Frozen dessert products are sold in Long Beach, CA, more often than any other city in the United States. They are followed by Dallas, Philadelphia, Columbus, and Milwaukee. (International Dairy Foods Association)
#19. The gelato industry in India is expected to continue growing at a CAGR of 12%. Consumers in the western and northern areas of the country continue to account for 70% of domestic sales in India. (Business Standard)
#20. Branded frozen dessert sales are sparking the highest levels of growth for the industry, rising from $200 million in sales in 2009 to $612 million in sales in 2015. (Business Standard)
#21. When incorporated with the overall frozen food market globally, gelato is part of a trend that is expected to achieve $306 billion in sales by 2020. (Allied Market Research)
#22. China leads the world in overall frozen dessert consumption, more than doubling what is consumed in the United States. More gelato and ice cream are consumed, per capita, in Norway, Australia, and Sweden, however, when compared to the U.S. market. (Times of India)
Gelato Industry Trends and Forecast
Although the gelato industry has experienced high levels of growth in recent years, that is a trend which is forecast to decline in the next 5-year and 10-year forecast periods. Americans have focused on creating a health-conscious diet and have sought out new eating options. That means the gelato industry must now compete with options like frozen yogurt, which are perceived to be healthier.
Some of this information, however, is skewed because statistics and trends include franchise suppliers of soft-serve ice cream, such as Dairy Queen. Soft-serve ice cream incorporates more air than gelato, even though it has a similar melting profile.
That means some consumers may transition from ice cream to gelato, while others may transition from gelato to frozen yogurt or another healthier product.
To further complicate matters, gelato industry forecasts are often combined with the overall ice cream industry, which skews future opportunities for both industries.
The health of the gelato industry will likely be reliant on the neighborhood stores that can be found throughout the U.S. and the rest of the world. With established local customers, these small businesses have a chance to thrive as franchise and large businesses focus on other forms of frozen desserts.