Gelato Jonny 3 – What is the perfect portion?

With healthy food a regular feature in the news, should we, as an industry of sweet treats, take more responsibility for portion control?  I know it is an interesting debate and maybe I am opening a can of worms here, but let’s consider what is the perfect portion.

Of course it depends on your point of view – is it the perfect portion for a customer or a maker, a seller or a server…?  Naturally we all want to keep our customers happy and sales high, but should we be thinking about the health of our customers as well as the profit per portion?

What is a portion?

When I am helping new start ups appreciate the importance of portion control on one of our ice cream training courses, I like to think they leave understanding how much it might cost per serving.  Knowing your costs is obviously fundamental to deciding what to charge per portion.  Sales can be high but if you are not making any profit then you are kidding yourself that business is booming.  Before you can decide on what to charge you need to decide what is a portion?…

  • Which scoop size are you using?
  • Or how much do you put on a spatula?
  • Do all your servers give equal portions?
  • How do you regulate what you serve?
  • What size cones or tubs do you use?

The answers to these questions will vary depending on a variety of factors including the people involved, your location, the local competition and your environment.  For example a rural outlet and an inner city shop may have vastly different portion sizes.  Some like to give a ‘hearty’ portion, others lean towards the ‘quality not quantity’ philosophy, although that is not to say a hearty portion is not a high quality one!

Food portion sizes under the spotlight

I decided to find out more about portion sizes in general and realised that this is not just an issue for our industry.  In fact healthy foods seem to be under scrutiny for portion sizes.  For example how many of us select that healthy meal deal at lunchtime and believe we have been really good?  Next time take a look at the small print on the smoothie bottle and see if it says a portion size is 150ml (the bottle is probably 330ml) – I leave you to work out how many portions you’ve actually consumed!  I am not saying these are not healthy, just that based on that information you need to consume it over two lunchtimes not one!  But let’s be honest nobody thinks of ice cream as a healthy option – it is a treat.

An article I found from a few years ago suggested portion sizes in relation to everyday household items for different food types. In this article the ideal ice cream portion size was likened to a standard light bulb, they also said a portion of cereal was the size of a tennis ball… what do you think is a responsible sized adult serving? 

Who is responsible for portion control?

Should we leave the onus on consumers to select and moderate what they eat or should we take some responsibility?  Ice cream is after all a treat and we wouldn’t want to spoil that  experience.  Perhaps our responsibility is for younger consumers where the portion habits begin?  Did you know that in 2017, 30% of children aged 2 to 15 in England were overweight, including 17% who were obese?*

If we give children adult’s portions what will they want when they grow up to be adults?  However if we start children on one small sized scoop they can move up to one large scoop and still feel they have had a treat.  Definitely food for thought….

See you next time for the latest scoop.

Jonny

*Health Survey for England 2017 National Statistics

Antonelli’s National Technical Manager Jonny Ireland write’s a regular column in the ICA’s Ice Cream Magazine…

See how this article looked in the August ’19 edition of the ICA’s Ice Cream Magazine…

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