The ‘Kelato’ in Kelato Dolce stands for ‘Keto Gelato’, which already demonstrates the main characteristics of the ice cream making it suitable for consumers on a ketogenic diet: Low in carbohydrates and zero-sugar – but it is targeting a much broader audience than just keto, according to the firm’s Founder Michelle Ng.
“We are different from other keto gelato out there – most of these are low in carbohydrates, but high in calories and fat as that is what the keto diet is all about, but we are very low-calorie,” Ng told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“We designed the gelato this way because we realized a gap in the market targeting consumers that want to lose weight and are not on the keto diet, they just want to reduce calories – so in the end we opted to go low-carb, low-calorie and zero sugar to cater to a wide range of consumers, and doing this has also made our ice cream diabetic friendly too.
“Now, I would say our main clientele are different from what we initially expected i.e. just millennials and Gen Z – we’ve been getting more in their 30s and upwards who are more health conscious and want to eat well.”
Kelato Dolce uses natural sugar replacements in its products, namely monkfruit and erythritol.
“Monkfruit is intensely sweet and erythritol is zero-calorie with no side-effects – Most importantly, we selected these two because they are natural, as a priority was to avoid any artificial taste like so many sugar-free products have,” said Ng.
“At present we have just six flavours (Dark Chocolate, Sea Salt Vanilla, Earl Grey Milk Tea, Acai Blueberry Sorbet, Mint Cacao Nibs and Cinnamon Cold Brew) but we’re rolling out more in the next few weeks to make it for Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day.
“As a new company, the idea is to create the best possible healthier ice creams with exciting, innovative flavours to appeal to more consumers and grow as quickly as possible first – later on when we’ve achieved this and established ourselves a bit more, we’ll then be looking to more niche markets, for example we’re thinking of developing a high-protein ice-cream that will target the more specialised fitness enthusiast market.”
Healthier ice cream trend in Singapore
Ng also expressed optimism that the healthy ice cream trend in Singapore is ‘picking up in terms of awareness’, particularly as some big foodservice brands like Yole have already started to get in the game.
“There’s still an incredibly huge gap to close though – it’s mostly still small artisan gelato shops promoting healthier options, so growth is still slow but as healthy eating and lifestyle awareness grows, so is this,” she said.
“I believe it will likely take a few more years, maybe five to six years, before local consumers’ awareness and preference for healthy gelato is equal to or more than that for regular ice cream – but awareness is picking up, and we want to be [ahead of the curve].”
To push consumer acceptance, Kelato Dolce has also put a lot of effort into not only relying on the products’ functional benefits but also making sure to innovate with the flavours.
“There’s a lot of artisan, creative flavour innovation when it comes to regular ice cream, and we want to make sure consumers opting to make the healthier choice are not losing out on anything,” she added.
“Apart from the current and upcoming flavours, we are also aiming to produce at least two to three new flavours every quarter, to make sure our consumers also get that variety.”
Retail and expansion
In the near term, Kelato Dolce will be focusing its retail strategy on e-commerce and collaborations with specialty outlets like local gyms in order to manage the logistics.
“In a way, COVID-19 has helped us because not only did it boost desirability for healthier foods, but we’re e-commerce focused and now consumers have become more comfortable buying online, even those that weren’t before,” said Ng.
As for expansion plans, she said that the focus will remain local for now due to the logistics of exporting frozen products overseas, but expansion is still in the cards.
“We’d be looking to South East Asia next, so likely Indonesia where the market is rapidly growing and health awareness is also on the rise, as well as Australia where consumers are already very much into healthy products and the market for a product like ours is more mature,” said Ng.
“So definitely there are plans to go beyond Singapore, but we’re taking it a step at a time so we don’t scale too far, too fast, until we are sure the supply chain and logistics end is sorted.”
Kelato Dolce’s healthy gelato is currently available online for S$16 (US$12.06) a pint, and S$36 (US$27.12) for a set of four half-pints.