Morelli, the UK champion ice cream producer, is to launch a dairy free product that’s also ideal for vegans, writes Sam Butler.
Based in Coleraine, Morelli, a Food NI company, was last week named the UK’s leading ice cream producer by industry body the Ice Cream Alliance (ICA) at the annual expo in Harrogate.
The family business, which also won silverware for its successful vanilla and strawberry flavours, has developed a dairy free ice cream in response to the growing demand from consumers seeking products free from allergens such as lactose.
The new ice cream, also suitable for vegans, will be widely available within the next few weeks from the company which has been pioneering ice cream in Northern Ireland since 1911 and is now among the UK industry’s most successful and respected.
Sales and marketing director Daniela Morelli-Kerr explains: “Creating the dairy free product was complicated. The first step, of course, was to replace the milk with ingredients that maintained the creaminess and flavour of ice cream.
“We settled on a base of healthy coconut fat, a sugar replacement, and plant extracts. It is water based but it is not a sorbet. We are confident that we’ve succeeded in creating a really delicious ice cream with these ingredients and made it suitable for consumers who are lactose intolerant. It’s also ideal for vegans,” Daniela adds.
The first two dairy free flavours are likely to be established favourites chocolate and salted caramel.
The company, which employs 20 people at Coleraine, has been working on the dairy free ice cream with its suppliers of ingredients for the last six months.
Morelli brought the coveted UK National Champion award to Northern Ireland for the first time ever.
“We were thrilled to win our industry’s top award,” continues Daniela. “It’s a very special endorsement of our business here, in the Republic of Ireland, where our sales are growing strongly, as well as in Great Britain, a target growth market for us, from the judging panel of industry experts. Our new vegan variety should also whip up further growth,” she continues.
“It doesn’t get any better than bringing national silverware back to our home in Northern Ireland and we will be sharing the celebrations with our ever loyal staff, suppliers and, of course, our marvellous customers,” adds Daniela.
And business in Britain looks set to grow steadily from the success in the awards.
ICA President and Head Judge, Henry Nurkowski hailed the company’s tremendous achievement, saying: “Morelli’s Ice Cream was outstanding. It is a testament to the hard work and dedication by the family to produce a top quality product from the best available ingredients and to do it consistently. The Morelli family thoroughly deserves this award,” he adds.
The family business, headed by Daniela’s brother Arnaldo Morelli, has long been at the forefront of successful innovation in iced desserts here. It launched the first diabetic friendly ice cream in Northern Ireland.
A frozen yoghurt was also created successfully from yoghurt sourced from Clandeboye Estate in Bangor. The yoghurt subsequently collected a gold medal at the Blas na hEireann Awards – The Irish National Food Awards – held annually at Dingle. Another original flavour was developed using Irish Black Butter, a savoury spread from Armagh Bramley apples and produced in Portrush by Alastair Bell.
“These and other products that we’ve developed over the years reflect the strength of our commitment to source as much as possible from local suppliers. All our milk comes from local farms through what used to be known as the Ballyrashane Creamery in Coleraine,” she adds.