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Tonitto, the king of sorbet is aiming for the United States

Luca Dovo speaks.The Middle East is also on the agenda and a + 20% turnover in 2022

A few days ago it returned from Dubai where participated at the five days of Gulfood held from 20 to 24 February at the Dubai world trade center. The journey was long, because the Tonitto 1939 ice cream parlor, leader in Italy for its sorbet, started from Genoa where the company is based and where it produces every year, in the 7,000 square meter factory in Campi, 3,500 tons of ice cream equal to over 8 million cans in different formats for a turnover that reached 10.5 million euros in 2021.

In Dubai, the company of the Dovo family, now in its third generation, was represented by the brothers Luca and Massimiliano Dovo, respectively owner and managing director and research and development manager. In the Emirates they presented their ice creams that certify the quality of made in Italy but creating flavors that are closer to the Anglo-American markets: brownie, salted caramel, chocolate fudge and cheescake.

At Gulfood 2022, Tonitto 1939 was the Ambassador of Italy, that is, it represented Italian ice cream: it was, in fact, the only Italian company to bring a typically Italian product such as ice cream to one of the most important trade fairs in the sector and of the year. 

"In the five days of Gulfood we met people and companies: from there begins a negotiation that goes on for months - explains Luca Dovo - Now a phase of negotiations will open that we focus above all on the Middle Eastern world: United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan. All markets in which we are not yet present, but we hope to be able to start a collaboration relationship as soon as possible".

Importers and large-scale distribution chains are the targets for landing in the Middle East. "The issue concerns the product: in that area they look for products of good or very good quality. And we are able to supply them thanks to our experience - the manager emphasizes - The thorniest aspect concerns the certifications that are requested: because the Arab world demands a Halal certified product, which respects their production standards".

"For some months - continues Dovo - we have been working on this certification which only partially concerns the production process: more than anything else it has to do with the raw material that must be certified according to the Halal standard. This is why there is a lot of work done. search for the supplier on our part: we are looking for those who already have Halal raw materials such as milk and sugar, even if in our portfolio we already have a range of suppliers who can supply us with this type of raw materials".

"New markets? We are exploring the United States - says the manager - They are the first consumers of ice cream in the world. Also in this case we have the problem of transport and logistics: the freight rates for the USA have reached unsustainable costs so these commercial relationships are slowed down. But we continue to work on it and plan to land in the United States this year".
And Tonitto in China? "Here we are, but for now only in large hotel chains - explains the CEO. In China tourism has restarted but, with the covid, the tourist market was at a standstill: the hotels did not work and we too did little work in that period", he specifies

"We also have good commercial contacts with China - replies Dovo - At this moment, however, the situation is not simple: not only for the latest events but also and above all for the pandemic discourse. The markets have been at a standstill for two years, "blocked, a little rusty, at least in our sector".

"And then, adds the manager - there is another critical component that has been added especially in recent times. We are talking about transport and logistics. The cost of transport and container freight has increased dramatically: in the moment in to which a product is exported which then gradually accumulates additional logistical costs, in the end there is a risk of going out of business. Another factor to consider is that China is a market that has very low per capita consumption of ice cream: it is that people are so many that it ends up becoming an important market for a product like ours anyway".

Founded in 1939 as a simple ice cream parlor, opened by the intuition of grandfather Antonio Dovo, known as Tonitto, the company has a fundamental impulse with his son, Alfredo who makes it make the leap in quality. The ice cream parlor in the bene district of Albaro becomes the favorite meeting point of the Genoese high society: the restaurants in the area ask for his ice creams and orders begin to flock also from other parts of Italy, in particular from the Costa Smeralda and Lombardy. Even the King of Jordan chose Tonitto's ice cream for the prestigious guests of his parties.

"The big boost was given by our father - explains Luca Dovo - who transformed the ice cream shop into a production that was first of all artisanal, with a laboratory that made ice cream and resold it to other restaurants, bars and ice cream parlors. Then he arrived at the dimension. industrial like the one we have today".

We are in the mid-90s, in fact, when the new factory in Campi arrives, equipped with the most technological systems: Tonitto's ice cream leaves the cone and the waffle and is thrown into the jars becoming a family cup, a family cup. sorbet and more. Today the company produces over 200 references between formats, recipes and labels, both for Italy and abroad: exports take over 45% of turnover in over 20 countries in Europe, the Middle East, South America, Japan, South Korea

"We have abandoned the horeca channel - says the CEO - Our customers are no longer bars, restaurants or catering but only large-scale distribution. We are present throughout Italy, more in the north but also in the center and partially in the south. In Europe we are present a little everywhere, but our reference markets are those of the North, especially Norway, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden".

The prospects? "We have set ourselves ambitious growth horizons - emphasizes Dovo. We expect growth in 2022 but it is also true that we live for the day because we have a non-negligible problem: the increases in raw materials and electricity. We have to freeze our products, and the cold stores consume a lot of energy. These are unknown factors that do not allow us to make precise forecasts: we are still aiming to grow by 20% in terms of total revenue by 2022".

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EFA News - European Food Agency