Author: Damiano Cortese
Section: Best practice
Best practices in traditional food renewal
In the Italian Piedmont region several agri food projects have been founded in the last five years, such as an online wine club and ‘slow fast food’ restaurants. These initiatives merge passion for traditional local products with technological and managerial tools.
Massimo Cento meaning ‘maximum hundred’ is a local food distribution initiative established by the University of Turin in January 2014. The food chain involved is located within a 100km radius and focuses upon the distribution of dried fruits, juices, vegetables and ready-made products through vending machine in University areas and offices. The project plans to expand this distribution model to new areas whilst remaining loyal to the core philosophy: healthy local and easy to eat products sold in captivating packaging.
Massimo Cento is one of several traditional food projects in the Piedmont area. Two other initiatives can also provide insight into the successful promotion of traditional and locally produced foods. Both aim to show consumers the history behind the products and help them to chose quality.
EXAMPLE 1. M** BUN RESTAURANTS
The meat market has been marked by global resonance problems, such as BSE “mad cow” disease and swine fever. This has resulted in an increased consumer awareness and emphasis on food safety, quality and traceability, creating a market opportunity, which has been capitalised upon with the establishment of two ‘slow fast food’ restaurants in Rivoli and Turin under the name M** Bun. Connection to the fields used to breed cattle that will be used to produce hamburgers, is vital to the concept. The ethos and image of these “slow fast food” restaurants is based on food culture and its core values: quality and safety.
The original name Mac Bun means “only good” in the local dialect. This name made the start-up immediately famous because of the lawsuit filed by McDonald’s. To avoid legal consequences the company changed its name to M** Bun.
The restaurants offer a simple cooking style with an emphasis on sustainable sourcing across all areas from the choice of kitchen tools to raw materials and beverages. The company has over 80 employees. M** Bun buys the bread for the hamburgers from a local bakery, significantly boosting its production activities. The same thing happened with Soralamà, the brewery that supplies beers to M** Bun. This collaboration now accounts for 50% of Soralamà’s turnover. M** Bun also works with the Turin based ice-cream company Grom. A Grom ice-cream shop even opened near the M** Bun in Turin. MoleCola is a cola beverage exclusively created for M** Bun restaurants, produced locally with an eye on consumers needs and on the environment.
M** Bun restaurants source the majority of their meat from a Farm Scaglia, run by the brothers Paolo, Mauro and Graziano who are the M**Bun founders. Scaglia Company was created in 1931 by their great grandfather, a share-cropper farmer. In 1993 the company started to diversify by opening a butcher’s shop. According to Graziano Scaglia “We have always aimed at maintaining the high quality of our products more than increasing our turnover,” “Cattle farming has been our job for generations: we want to share our knowledge.”
We have always aimed to maintain the high quality of our products more than increasing our turnover
M** Bun’s primary concern is environmental impact. The company aims to educate consumers about its efforts to be ‘green’, from the choice of the meat to the choice of the furniture. ‘Water 0 kilometers’ is one example. It involves serving water in glasses instead of bottles at a reduced price.
Communication and advertising are closely related to its main company values and the local food and wine culture. With a focus on quality and consumer satisfaction, the Graziano brothers are constantly improving and evolving production processes, recipes, developing new products and improving the customer service experience.
Radio M** Bun is an innovative initiative that streams music from Piedmont and proposes new artists. Moreover, the newest restaurant houses a radio station, which hosts live music events. Another service is the online calendar with events in the restaurants and the larger Piedmont region. Since 2012 the restaurants are gluten free friendly.
EXAMPLE 2: ONLINE WINE CLUB SVINANDO
The Italian agri-business market was hit in 1986 by the scandal of wine adulteration with methanol, to increase the alcohol percentage causing the death of 23 consumers. Burton Anderson, journalist and wine writer, has cynically written about this unfortunate episode in the history of Italian wine production as the ‘best’ thing that could have ever happened. Since then, in the Italian wine consumer’s perception quality has prevailed over quantity. The consumer prefers local products over standard products and wine cellars over general supermarkets. Abroad Italian wine is greatly appreciated. Export has grown from € 3,673,000 in 2008 to €5,039,000 in 2013, a 37% increase in 5 years.
Superior local wine
Within the booming Italian wine industry Svinando is an outstanding Start-Up. This e-market has more than 35,000 registered users and offers more than 120 labels selected from the best Italian wines.
Svinando works as a wine club, offering wines chosen because of their connection to the production area, strong contribution of the history of wine making, regionality and diversity. It is only possible to select one wine at a time, choosing from superior wines with Italian quality labels as DOC and DOP, which stand for protected designation of origin, to large stocks. The service also offers detailed product information, video tastings by wine experts and interviews with the best wineries in Italy. The tasting of wine videos improves the customer’s ability to taste wine and deepen their knowledge about the products.
The project started within the Business Incubator of the University of Turin. The first available wines, on February 18th 2013, were sold out in less than 24 hours. In June 2014 Svinando closed its second capital increase with an income of €300,000 and another € 180,000 raised through the Investment Club in Piedmont.
The success of Svinando comes from creating a strong community united by a common passion for this segment of the wine industry, by means of an innovative system and a designated network. It also establishes a direct link between buyers and producers. Thanks to the shorter buying process in the supply chain, it is possible to reduce the prices for the consumer, creating a competitive advantage.
Online purchasing helps to put the spotlight on previously ignored products. It generates autonomous technical and economical information on the preferred type of wine and on purchasing power and price range. The user is at the centre of the company’s purchasing process.
Wine is a product steeped in tradition and local culture that enters the ‘immaterial’ market of the 'World Wide Web'. This strategy enables consumers to get in touch with producers and tempts them to visit production areas, stimulating tourism. The internet becomes a tool to link traditional products to new markets and also producers to consumers, highlighting the importance of the culture behind the product.