Twelve Sicilian businesses approach the US market under a single brand
An ambitious network gathering 12 Sicilian businesses under a single brand (Gustoso Sicilian Food Excellence) has formed with the objective of conquering US retail shelves and taking Sicilian food businesses overseas. How? By raising the interest of consumers who usually buy niche products exalting their authenticity, history and tradition and promoting the Pdo and Pgi marks.
The business network was created by Daniele Cipollina, an entrepreneur from Palermo working in the advertising and marketing sector, and Paolo Internicola, general director of Gustoso Import Usa, distributor and sole interlocutor for retail chains and H&R located in Florida, Washington DC and New York.
"Paolo and I started by becoming a point of reference for the businesses involved, some of which already exported to the US, as they could take advantage of agreements signed with leading retail chains such as Albertsons, Walmart and Sam's Club."
Daniele Cipollina, founder and president of the Gustoso Food Excellence business network.
"We also set up a $2 million communication plan to promote the Gustoso brand. Businesses share the same market approach, therefore the network is a useful tool to work together and improve competitiveness as well as to provide solutions and help tackling the foreign market: from specific consults and commercial contracts to assistance when taking part in international tenders."
Pannitteri, Marullo srl, Gustibus Alimentari, Made Fruit, Azienda Vitivinicola Tonnino, Miscela D'Oro, Asaro, Valle del Dittaino, Olive di Sicilia e Gustoso Export Promotion Italia, Molini Riggi, Birrificio Bruno Ribadi have taken part so far to spread the knowledge and promote Sicilian products on the US market. What do the 12 businesses share?
"Storage and retail distribution logistics through collaboration agreements with the leading American distributors (Reese Group, Kreative Group). In addition, Vitale Wine Distribution will be in charge of the logistics for all Gustoso-branded wines and spirits. There is also a communication and promotion plan to conquer shares of the US market and spread the knowledge as regards the brand. What is more, their products share authenticity, a strong connection with the territory, history and tradition and the fact that they hold the Pdo and Pgi marks."
What product certifications are there for US consumers?
"Our slogan is 'mangia sano, mangia siciliano' (eat healthily, eat Sicilian). Each product is the final result of a long history made up of continuous attempts and improvements to better employ the resources supplied by a certain natural environment in accordance with local needs, beliefs and historical events. Each product combines an environmental and a cultural identity."
When promoting a product, one must consider the fact that consumers are always more willing to reward processes that preserve the quality and integrity of the environment.
Codacons Sicilia, with the participation of consumer associations Assoutenti, Confeuropa Consumatori, Consaambiente, Codici Sicilia and Udicon, has developed the "Mangia sano, mangia sicliano" project to contribute safeguarding the Sicilian food and agricultural heritage so that the Gustoso brand can become a point of reference in this matter.What tests are carried out on the products?
"Gustoso Import Promotion Usa manages imports as well as the compliance with Fda standards of the more complex products such as preserves, cheese and all those food products needing an import permit. Gustoso Import Promotion Usa recommends initial tests that can inexpensively assess whether a certain product can sell easily and how."
"A market and sales test follows so as to contain risks and investments. Distribution is carried out first in regional and then national chains under the management of Reese Group, which operates all over North America with over 10 branches."
Gustoso Import Promotion Usa is the logistics hub in Florida. It guarantees speedy deliveries within 48 working hours (often even 24). Gustoso Export Promotion receives the goods, stocks them, ships them, issues invoices and tracks orders.
Objectives for 2018-2020
"The Network has ambitious objectives. The reference market for 2018 will be North America, then the brand will look at the UK market in 2019 and start studying the Chinese market. The expected turnover for the first 24 months is $25 million. In addition, although all businesses part of the network do commercialise organic products in Italy and Europe, no organic ranges will be introduced on the US market during this first start-up phase, but they will be in 2018."
Publication date: 10/24/2017
Author: Rebecca B Baron
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