The US are an immense market where the fresh-cut segment reaches astonishing numbers, and Andrea Montagna has been sent over there to manage the Bonduelle Fresh Americas business unit. FreshPlaza talked about it with him on the phone.
FreshPlaza (FP): Andrea Montagna, you accepted quite the challenge!
Andrea Montagna (AM): Yes, but we all accepted it, my wife and my two children. I started my job here in California around a week ago and it will take me a while to get used to it. I had lived in the US years ago, but this time my family has moved here with me.
FP: Where is your exact location?
AM: Bonduelle Fresh Americas is located in Irwindale, in the Los Angeles county. Then there are other three facilities on the East Coast. Production areas are large here in California and they are located relatively near our facility, where we only produce fresh-cut vegetables.
FP: How important is "your" business unit within Bonduelle?
AM: The US market is our leading one and, in fact, we have four facilities over here with 3500 operators. Just like in Europe, they are located near the production areas, but of course distances are bigger over here compared to Italy, for example.
FP: What is the US market like?
AM: It is similar to the European one when it comes to trends: consumers are increasingly interested in vegetable-based healthy nutrition. For example, our enriched bowls gained popularity here first. Due to their practicality, fresh-cut products have a high penetration index.
FP: How has Covid affected distribution?
AM: The pandemic has strengthened the retail channel, and the fresh-cut segment followed this trend too. In Italy, however, the sale of ready-to-eat vegetables slowed down during the pandemic. In the US, consumers have two main channels to choose from: retail chains where they can buy ready or almost-ready food or the food service, i.e. places where they can eat. In the US, the latter accounts for 50%, and there is plenty of margin for us to grow.
FP: So now you are studying the North-American market?
AM: Let's say that, over the next couple of months, I will study the segment's dynamics and mechanisms so we can take the best directions.