Italia to Asia: Singapore’s Aroma Truffle aims for Asia, Middle East expansion
Established in 2017, the award-winning firm has 15 SKUs innovated from the luxurious truffle. For instance, it has five potato chip flavours, two popcorn types, oil, butter, sea salt, dipping sauces and seasonal mooncakes for the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival.
The expansion plans come on the back of its recent entry to Japan and existing presence in 11 other countries – Thailand, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Australia, Brunei, Hongkong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Canada.
“There is a gap in Asia on the consumption of truffles. It is something new and worth spreading. To the Italians, harvesting ingredients, preparing and presenting the final dish demonstrated their passion and a form of refined art.
“A dear Italian friend hosted our trip to a Spoleto truffle farm, and we saw the hard work, discipline and artisanship involved,” said the firm’s co-founder Kayson Chan, 31, who also acts as its Marketing and Business Development Director.
Innovate to create
The firm has now come up with its first-ever seasonal truffle gelato topped with hand-shaved truffles air-flown from Spoleto, Umbria, in central Italy.
The Black Summer truffles are in season and available from April to August. Next, the exotic and rare white truffle will be featured in the gelato as it is in season from September to December. The white truffle has a complex and pronounced flavour with earthy notes of garlic, honey and the forest floor.
Finally, the Black Winter truffles will be the star as it arrives from January through March. It is distinguished by its dark and robustly-veined flesh, with the most intense flavour out of the three.
This season, the firm manufactured 1,000 tubs at its plant in Senoko (northern Singapore) for the domestic market. As of mid-June, half the inventory has been snapped up.
According to Chan, the gelato idea was conceptualised in late 2021, followed by a six-month research and development (R&D) period to iron out the kinks. The vanilla base is made from the finest Malagasy vanilla beans swirled with hand-chopped macadamia nuts and Bolivian pink salt, creating the umami balance.
“There is a misconception that good gelato can’t melt easily. However, when we added the truffle, the gelato melted faster. Good gelato is supposed to melt faster,” said Chan.
Democratising the luxurious truffle
Commenting on the reason behind the gelato line, Chan and his team intended to fulfil the high demand in Singapore for cold desserts due to the hot tropical climate. On a deeper level, they also wanted to make the truffle easily accessible to the general market.
In the Singapore market, gelato or ice cream with truffles usually retails at SGD$68 per 500g pint, whereas Aroma Truffle’s pint with the same weight retails at only SGD$28.
“We can scale because we play the volume game and liaise directly with the truffle farm in Italy. Other firms usually have a third party involved, driving up the prices. We do not want to offer a mediocre product. In fact, we want customers to see the truffles visibly. We want to democratise the market so that even the general consumer can access such a luxurious product,” he said.
Specifically, he wants to attract aspiring millennials and Gen Zs who frequent hipster coffee joints and working adults aged 24 to 49 to purchase the gelato line.
The indulgent dairy product is available exclusively in Singapore at the firm’s retail outlets in Jewel Changi Airport and Chinatown Point, as well as its e-commerce platform.
In conclusion, the firm hopes to grow 20% year-on-year and produce single-serve tubs to make it even more accessible. For export, it wants to test the Taiwanese and South Korean markets by 2023 or 2024. It aims to manufacture one container or around 20,000 small tubs for those markets.
“We hope to bring the product across to more people, not just in Singapore, but the whole of Asia. We want to bring this product to the common market and make it more affordable so that even more people can enjoy it,” said Chan.