“We are really positioning [Forte Gelato] as a delicious dessert that happens to be good for you,” but the current 4-ounce single-serve cups send the message the gelato is more of a health food than a treat because the packaging recalls the forced portion control of weight-management foods, said founder and CEO Adrian Pace.
“In pints, the message is the other way around. … It becomes a family product all of sudden – something shareable that a person might eat in a larger quantity,” and consider as an “indulgence and less of a better-for-you product,” Pace said.
The pints, which will launch this summer, also likely will catch the mainstream shopper’s attention more easily because it is a more familiar package. It also could be viewed as more of a value purchase than the individual cups, which could help soften the product’s premium pricing.
Premium flavors reinforce indulgence message
Forte Gelato also communicates indulgence through its use of high-quality ingredients and premium flavors, Pace said.
“We use the world’s best, most expensive vanilla from Madagascar; the most expensive organic agave; premium cocoa from Holland; real, organic ginger and freshly brewed espresso” to make the four current flavors, Pace said.
He also has two more flavors in the works – an organic strawberry that will address consumers’ desires for a refreshing, but nostalgic flavor, and a more trendy salted caramel made “with a little bit of twist,” Pace said. While the formulas are finished, it will still be several months before the new flavors hit store shelves as Forte Gelato finalizes packaging and labeling, he added.
To help cover the cost of the new pints and new flavors, as well as to raise general working capital, Forte Gelato is raising funds on the website CircleUp, Pace said.
As a former hedge fund manager with a successful previous career on Wallstreet, Pace said his prior work experience can help him work with potential investors that find Forte Gelato on CircleUp. Specifically, he says, he waited to reach out to investors through CircleUp until he was confident, based on current sales and wide distribution, that Forte Gelato had what it takes to last and succeed.
The funds raised also will help the product expand its reach through more aggressive demonstrations at stores, which can be expensive for companies, Pace said, noting the old adage that “it takes money to make money.”
While Forte Gelato is going out of its way to position itself as a decadent treat, the company also is staying true to its mission to create a better-for-you dessert.
Pace originally crafted Forte Gelato as a nutrient dense alternative to the nutrition supplements disguised as ice cream that he ate in the hospital while waiting for and recovering from open heart surgery.
Because Pace and many other hospital patients need high amounts of protein, each 4 ounce serving of Forte Gelato packs a whopping 15 grams of protein, which his five times the amount in regular gelato or ice cream and more protein than Greek yogurt, Pace said.
The high protein content defies the expectations of food scientists who told Pace that he likely could only pack in 10 grams of protein per 4 ounce service and still successfully mask the taste and texture of protein. But Pace refused to compromise, figuring that if he could survive a heart transplant, he could figure out how to make a high protein gelato that still tasted creamy. He did so by testing upwards of 20 to 30 different proteins before landing on a combination of milk protein that would not denature during the production process and would still be texturally clean and smooth, Pace said.
Forte Gelato also is low-fat, with only 2.5 grams of fat per 4-ounce service, thanks to the use of only rBST-free skim milk, rBST-free cream and proteins, Pace said. This is significantly lower than the 8 grams of fat in regular gelato and the 10 to 20 or more grams of fat in a serving of ice cream, he said.
The use of cage-free egg yolks also appeals to the natural shopper looking for products made with ethically-raised ingredients.
All these ingredients come together to make Forte Gelato the next evolution of gelato – something that is natural, functional, better-for-you and that tastes good, Pace said.