The Sigep Observatory dedicated to Christmas 2021 spotlights panettone: the undisputed king of Italian tables in the festive season is increasingly requested for international ones. The Observatory, issued for twenty years by SIGEP – Italian Exhibition Group’s Dolce World Expo of (from 22nd to 26th January at Rimini expo centre), gathered from some of the country’s great master pastry chefs and gelato makers the trends of the artisan panettone, a product which in Italy in 2020 accounted for 52% of the Christmas cake market for a value of 109 million euros.
“A recipe that has conquered the world. Originating from local Lombardy, the panettone has managed to spread to all the regions of Italy and on to the rest of the globe, spreading the quality of Italy’s artisan skills. Raisins and candied fruit decorate the Milan panettone and make the aroma of every slice unique and recognizable throughout the world”, states the great master pastry chef Iginio Massari.
For the ex-world champion pastry chef Luigi Biasetto, ”Panettone with pistachio flavoured dough or with caramel and gianduja are top-selling products this Christmas. In a relatively uncertain period such as this, sugar is comforting and if the figures reach 150% of last year, this is a sign that there is a need for convivial occasions and socialization.”
Salvatore De Riso, president of the Academy of Italian Master Pastry chefs, makes 16 different types of panettone: “We send them everywhere, even to China and Canada. The “cioccoloso”, with dark chocolate in the dough and vanilla flavoured candied apricots, is the novelty of 2021 which we personalized and was tasted by the Emir of Qatar Al Thani, who has been our client for four years.”
“The world has fallen in love with panettone”, explains Roberto Perotti, the master Brescia baker who is president of the prestigious Richemont Club Italia and, as of this year, of Richemont Internazionale, “because it is rich and has a complex preparation based on sourdough. The version with four types of chocolate – dark, milk and white, which disappears in the dough but can be smelled, and ruby, will be the surprise of this Christmas. Its success has also been boosted by the online sales channels.”
Regarding the Sigep Christmas Observatory, Claudio Gatti, president of the Accademia Maestri del Lievito Madre e del Panettone (the academy of sourdough and panettone masters) says, “There has also been a large increase abroad in the demand for this cake compared to previous years. In Europe, particularly in France and Switzerland, but also on the Asiatic market: China, Hong Kong and Singapore. The trend is to purchase quality products by small Italian artisans.”
For Eugenio Morrone, world gelato champion at Sigep 2020 now is the time to make abundant use of quality raw material: “To fill the panettone, I suggest gelato pistachio or a blend of Venezuelan chocolate and rum flavoured Madagascar chocolate. Or “wrong” zabaglione, made with passito wine instead of Marsala.”
From the workshop of Rimini’s Roberto Rinaldini, pastry chef of the Academy of Italian Master Pastry Chefs, there is an idea for a “literary” Christmas: “We’ve created a panettone dedicated to Dante, in honour of the 700th anniversary of the death of the great poet, filled with vegan pistachio cream, wild strawberries and semi-candied cherries and coated with cremino icing and chopped pistachio.”
Sonia Balacchi, the first Pastry Queen of all time, proposes cakes that are tasty but healthy. “This year’s panettone is made with wholemeal flour and flavoured with a mixture of citrus fruits. The cake can be personalized with various types of gelato filling and a selection of cremino icing, available in my recently inaugurated showroom in Riccione.”
In 2020, Artisan Patisseries and gelato parlours, sectors that come under the same ATECO classification, featured 17,514 enterprises in activity with 65,000 staff; equal to a fifth (20.2%) of the 86,000 enterprises in the artisan food sector and 1.3% of Italy’s artisan business. In 2019 on the other hand, pure gelato parlours, along with shops selling gelato, totalled 39,000 sales point, with a value of over 4 billion euros (sources: Confartigianato Alimentare, Fipe).