It is generally agreed that as both children and adults we tend to not consume enough fruit and vegetables in our daily diets, even though we know that by doing so, it will have a better effect on our health and wellbeing. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that we consume at least 400 grams, or 5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day in order to help prevent illness, disease and deficiencies. To put this in context, the average adult in the US consumes just 1 serving of fruit per day and only 1.5 servings of vegetables.
To solve this problem, some frozen dessert brands around the world have launched fruit & veggie pops, providing a healthy icy treat, mostly for kids. Nowhere, however, could we find a premium version that could mimic the rich texture and refined flavour combinations that can compete against ice cream brands. Until now that is!
We met with Zeno Tosoni, CEO & Co-Founder at GIGI GELATO, who is on a mission to help consumers establish healthier eating habits and do good for the planet in the process. Keep reading below to learn more the brand’s ability to create healthy, premium frozen desserts made from 100% pure fruit and vegetables.
From beginnings to award-winnings
GIGI GELATO, aptly named after one of the brand’s Co-Founders, Luigi - a 60-year-old Italian ice cream maestro - was initially brought to life in Holland when Luigi joined forces with two other international food entrepreneurs, Zeno - a fellow Italian entrepreneur with a strong background in start-up design, development, and branding; and Ralph - a Dutch entrepreneur with solid operations and logistics experience.
With the trio combining a strong set of complementary business skills and a shared passion for food, the three came together to create Gigi Gelato, a brand that they have now built into the “Innovative Food-to-go Product of the Year”, awarded by Food Matters Live (London).
Launching originally in Holland, the team, through their innovative plant-based gelato ice bars, is on a mission to improve the wellbeing of their customers' lives and that of the planet we live in by creating a non-dairy, premium frozen dessert that tastes just as good and as creamy as traditional dairy ice cream products.
“We want to make a positive impact on our customers and the people that work with us in every country we are present in, and we think that creating an ice cream that is good for us and for our planet is the best way to make people happy.”
As of 2019, their branded Gigi Gelato SKU’s can be found on the shelves of many large retailers such as Albert Heijn (The Netherlands), ICA (Sweden), Sonae (Portugal), and Maxidi (Italy), as well as delivery services across Europe. They have even become the best-selling plant-based product on international online supermarket, Gorillas.
Creative Flavours Inspired by Art, Cross-Category Research, and Technology
Traditional flavours will never be on the menu at Gigi Gelato. Refined, creative combinations of ingredients are part of their brand DNA.
The first three flavours to launch within Gigi Gelato’s range were:
Orange, Carrot, and Ginger;
Strawberry, Blueberry, Beetroot;
Mango, Passion Fruit, and Fennel.
How they made the decision on which flavours to start working on was a truly insightful process.
“We originally chose our first three flavours after doing some cross-category research and discovering that our current flavours were the best sellers in the juice category. We realised that the ingredients were also very high in nutrients and they would make a great starting point for our first three Gigi SKU’s, so we worked closely with our R&D team to adapt those flavours for our ice bars”.
Customer feedback was also a large part of their selection process for selecting their first flavours and continues to be to this day. This stage is important for the team to better understand what flavours stand out to customers the most.
Additionally, the brand also partners with a Dutch company who are helping them to design future flavours through a DNA matching process. This process involves selecting ingredients that work well together genetically so that the flavours complement each other in the best way possible.
Uniquely, each ice bar is water-based and made with 100% pure fruits and vegetables, making them high in fibre and suitable, as well as delicious, for both vegan and non-vegan customers since, unlike most vegan frozen desserts, they do not contain any plant-based milk alternatives. The bars have no coating either as many coatings are made with colourings and sugars, which would not align with Gigi’s nutritional goal of creating a fully natural and healthy frozen dessert product.
While this sounds like the perfect product for many consumers, the Gigi Gelato team confirmed that creating their ice bars in a way that aligns with their nutritional and environmental values has not been without its challenges.
“We started off developing a frozen dessert ‘pint’ but through research we realised that the market for ice cream and frozen dessert pints was extremely saturated and we needed to pivot if we wanted to make an impact. Going down the route of creating sticks is a much more challenging task, especially in terms of perfecting the water-based and coating-free recipe, but we felt it would be worth it, and it has been. The initial trial and error period made us form a stronger working relationship with our manufacturer, whom we still work with to this day.”
The typical ice bar customer is young parents, specifically mothers, who are looking for healthier snacks to give to their children. The Gigi team first noticed the popularity of the product with this consumer category at an event where there were many parents with children who struggled to eat enough fruit or vegetables but who were truly enjoying their frozen snack. One of the brand’s goals with their products is to change the perception of fruit and vegetables for young children and help increase consumption in that consumer category.
How can the INNODELICE network support GIGI GELATO’s growth?
Given their success to date with online delivery platforms and supermarkets, GIGI GELATO will be focusing even more on this area moving forward so that they can reach even more customers in the on-the-go and at home ice cream categories.
With this in mind, they will be looking to develop long-term working relationships with more brokering partners in order to introduce their products to more retailers, both in the online and offline space, who want to increase their innovative product lines in the frozen aisle.
The Company has recently partially closed a round of international investment which they will be using to grow their business specifically in the areas of marketing, branding, R&D, and innovation with a new packaging design in the works.
When the investment round is fully closed, they will be focusing on entering into new export markets, primarily United States, Canada, and Dubai. They will also be seeking to expand their current distribution in the EU with the goal of becoming the number one plant-based ice cream brand in the Italian market.
Thanks to their team of internationally-recognised partners and a strong European manufacturer supporting their planned growth for 2022 and beyond, they can provide their customers with extremely high-quality standards, first-level certifications, and high production capabilities.
How to start collaborating with GIGI GELATO?
If you see opportunities between GIGI GELATO and your business, we would be happy to facilitate an introduction and help you start that conversation. You can understand more about the Gigi Gelato brand and products here on our website, and if you are interested in discussing potential partnership opportunities, reach out to Nicolas on firstname.lastname@example.org or Andrea on email@example.com and we will connect you.
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Founded by former executives in the Ice Cream industry, INNODELICE aims to create a worldwide ecosystem of solutions within the frozen dessert industry. Thanks to the relationships fostered by INNODELICE, manufacturers, brands, importers, distributors and suppliers can discover, buy and sell solutions to GROW their business. These solutions include co-manufactured and branded products as well as innovative and competitive ingredients, packaging and services. Our collaboration model generates lower costs and fewer risks for our participating partners while optimising their time to market. To learn more about INNODELICE, contact Nicolas MARIE (firstname.lastname@example.org), Andrea MONTREUIL (email@example.com) or visit www.innodelice.com.