A Q&A with Dr. Luciano Rabboni, president and founder of PreGel
Q. What’s the background behind the beginning of PreGel?
A. After completing my college studies at the
University of Parma and having the experience of assisting a food science professor there, I had an intense urge to find a job that would allow me to research opportunities in the food industry. In my search, I received a request to develop flavors for gelato, which in the ‘60s was quickly spreading through Italy and Europe. The interest and enthusiasm I had for this type of product development allowed me to face and overcome the many obstacles that occur when starting a business from the ground up, and in 1967, PreGel began.
Q. What were the first products produced by PreGel?
A. The first products produced by PreGel were the fruit pastes called Fortefrutto®. When I started the company there was a limited number of fruit flavors available in the industry. Gelato was made with fresh fruits that weren’t available year-round and frozen fruit wasn’t an option. Gelato makers were faced with a problem as the fruit used for the gelato was always at various levels of ripeness and acidity, which resulted in gelato with weak flavors and extreme inconsistencies. With the development of our pastes, we were able to intensify the gelato flavor, improve product consistency and offer a wide-range of fruit flavors year-round. We began to sell throughout Italy and Europe, and became the first company to present this new wave of fruit gelato.
Q. What are the most memorable products PreGel has produced over the years?
A. During my long career, there are many products that I think of with great fondness. A personal favorite is our Zabajone, an Italian specialty with the flavor of marsala wine and eggs. PreGel has developed so many innovative products that it is hard to just name one. For example, Yoggi® 30, was originally developed as a yogurt flavor for gelato, yet has found great application in soft serve and frozen yogurt; our base, Fruttosa®, has been an innovative product for improving the smoothness and texture of sorbetto; Tiramisù Traditional Paste is another top-selling flavor; and Gran Stracciatella has been a favorite since its development in the ‘60s. Many flavors and novelties are launched every year, and I am sure that we will continue to offer intriguing and palate-stimulating products that will please both our store operators and the consumer.
Q. How did PreGel become a global company?
A. Today, PreGel is the largest specialty dessert ingredients company in the world. Global expansion happened naturally as the demand for our products grew (and continues to grow) throughout the world. Gelato has a presence in almost every country. We quickly recognized the need to assist our customers around the world, and that’s why we opened nine subsidiaries worldwide over the last 40-plus years. Our subsidiaries are located in Germany, Benelux, Austria, Switzerland, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Poland and United States.
Q. How has the market evolved throughout PreGel’s existence?
A. Over the last few years the gelato market has continued to develop and change. Consumers are always looking for new trends, flavors and dessert ideas, but the most important element of any product in their eyes, especially gelato, is the quality. A consumer will always return to the gelato store if he left satisfied because quality always makes the difference. This is above and beyond any trend or change in the market. Consumers know what they want, and therefore, the gelato shop offering the best product from the best ingredients
will always find success in their market.
Q. What’s the most important advice PreGel can offer its customers?
A. Buy the best and make the best. Business owners who try to save and cut corners on
ingredients will result in lower sales and less success. The gelato maker who uses the best resources and ingredients will offer the highest quality product. But that’s not all. Sometimes you have to go beyond this concept. The success of our customers is directly connected to the complete commitment to the end consumer – from the ingredients, display and taste of the finished product to store ambiance and customer service. Provide the whole experience.