Talenti revenues are set to reach $120m this year

Unilever deal creates an ‘unprecedented opportunity’ to expand our footprint, says Talenti gelato CEO

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Packaged in distinctive clear screw-top containers, Talenti gelato and sorbetto products have generated strong double-digit sales growth this year
Packaged in distinctive clear screw-top containers, Talenti gelato and sorbetto products have generated strong double-digit sales growth this year

Related tags Unilever

Becoming part of a global company will give best-selling gelato & sorbet brand Talenti an “unprecedented opportunity to grow and expand its footprint”, says the Minneapolis-based company, which has been snapped up by Unilever for an undisclosed sum.

Founded by Josh Hochschuler in 2003, Talenti has been significantly outpacing rivals in the frozen desserts aisle in recent years, and is on course to generate revenues of $120m in 2014.

Multi-outlet sales data from Chicago-based market research firm IRI shows that dollar sales of Talenti gelato in US supermarkets, drugstores, mass market retailers, military commissaries and select club & dollar chains surged 82% in the 52 weeks to November 2, while dollar sales of its sorbets were up 55% over the same period.

In comparison, overall dollar sales of ice cream rose 2.4% over the same period, while dollar sales of sherbert/sorbet/ices were down 6.68% (IRI multi-outlet data, 52 weeks to Nov 2).

Senior management team to stay on post the acquisition

Talenti sticks

In a statement issued Tuesday, Talenti said it would “continue to craft gelato and sorbetto using old world methods…​ [and] maintain and operate its production facility in Marietta, Georgia”.

CEO Steve Gill added that joining Unilever would give Talenti “access to Unilever's extensive distribution network​” and complement Unilever's ice cream portfolio, which includes the Ben & Jerry's, Breyers, Fruttare, Good Humor, Klondike, Magnum and Popsicle brands.

He added: "We are thrilled to join the Unilever family, work together to expand distribution and share Talenti love with even more ice cream consumers.”

Talenti will operate as a stand-alone business of Unilever North America

Unilever, meanwhile, told FoodNavigator-USA that the senior management team at Talenti including would be staying on post the acquisition.

A spokesperson added: “Talenti will operate as a stand-alone business of Unilever North America headquartered in Minneapolis, MN. Talenti CEO Steve Gill will report directly to Kees Kruythoff, President, Unilever North America.

“We see Talenti as complementary to our existing brands. The acquisition will allow us to provide consumers with a more complete and well-differentiated offering.”

Talenti flavors
Talenti - founded by Josh Hochschuler in 2003 as a retail gelato business in Dallas, Texas - switched its business model in 2005 to focus on supplying retailers and other companies with its products. In 2008 Hochschuler teamed up with Belvedere and Chopin Vodkas co-founders Steve Gill and Eddie Phillips.

A 'fantastic' brand

Asked about manufacturing, Unilever confirmed that Talenti products would continue to be made in a facility in Marietta, Georgia, post the deal.

Kees Kruythoff, President of Unilever North America, added: “The acquisition widens Unilever’s position in the fast-growing gelato market with its artisanal offerings and its clear, distinct and recyclable packaging. 

"We are looking forward to growing and developing this fantastic brand further.”

More to follow...

According to Talenti - which makes 30 gelato and sorbetto flavors from Sea Salt Caramel to Sicilian Pistachio in its trademark see-through screw-top jars - gelato contains less air than ice cream, making the flavors more intense. Gelato also has a higher percentage of solids (chocolate/caramel/ cane sugar) and less fat than ice cream as there’s less cream and more milk.

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