Gianfranco D'Amico (AD Bonduelle Italia)

Italy: Simplify supply and discover real expectations of final consumers

After a career spent supporting the Bonduelle brand in Italy, Umberto Galassini has recently appointed Gianfranco D'Amico (in the photo), 44, in his place.

Gianfranco D'Amico has a lengthy experience in the food sector as he was was Sales Vice President for Danone Italia for three years. 

FreshPlaza - Why did you accept a challenge in the the world of produce?
Gianfranco D'Amico - I chose to accept the challenge at Bonduelle because I share the same values of the company - respect for people, trust, justice, integrity, simplicity, excellence and honesty. 

The fact that the brand is very modern and well-known (17th in Europe) and the vision of the company also had a fundamental role.

The company being truly "Italian" was also important: from raw materials, to the facilities, to management. Connection with the territory is an essential added value in the world of produce.

FP - Which are the strong points and the improvement margins? Which are the main challenges?
GDA - Bonduelle has always looked for new markets and new ways to interpret its mission, i.e. for vegetables to be the nutrition of the future. The increase of corn consumption and the development of a category like the fresh-cut one are the most striking examples.

All of this was made possible by a cutting-edge know-how and an obsession for the quality of final products combined with sustainable development.

Every company can improve. I feel it is necessary to innovate, especially in a market such as this one, where pressure on prices can destroy the whole chain with unpredictable consequences.

We will never compromise on quality. Even if times are difficult, we will still invest in the quality of our products. You cannot let your guard down with food, and especially with fruit and vegetables!

At the same time, I think that the relationship with distributors must be surpassed. Consumers must be the central focus. We must simplify our offer and meet the expectations of final consumers in terms of product and price/quality. I feel that these are the most urgent elements.

FP - How important is Italy for Bonduelle in the fresh and processed sectors?
GDA - Italy is essential fro Bonduelle. We are the third country worldwide and we are the first country and the benchmark for the whole group as regards the fresh-cut range.

FP - Which are the most important products in terms of sales in Italy?
GDA - In the fresh produce sector, the top sellers are definitely Iceberg, Armonia and Tenere Insalatine, whereas in the speciality range, there are the M'ama non M'ama and Agita & Gusta ranges. 

As regards canned vegetables, Corn is the top product, whereas Spinaci Millefoglie and Coccole lead the way for the frozen products.

FP - The consumption of canned vegetables is decreasing in Western Europe. Is that the case for Italy?

GDA - It seems that Italy is holding on, as the value of the trend was +0.6 for the year ending in October. Traditional segments like corn and beans though have been going through some difficulties in the past few months.

FP - Are you affected by competition from Eastern Europe?
GDA - Competition from Eastern Europe is not a problem in the fresh sector, and it is still marginal also in the canned and frozen business.

FP - Is the economic crisis affecting the purchase of canned vegetables with respect to fresh ones?
GDA - As I mentioned before, both categories are being affected, especially in the past few months.

People are buying less and when they do buy, they buy products on special offer from less expensive supermarkets. This in turn affects the fresh vegetable sector as well.

FP - Do you also distribute fresh fruit salads and fruit juices? Is there a reason not to diversify?

GDA - At the moment we have no plans for something more diverse. Our mission is clear - we want to be the benchmark worldwide and develop all kinds of vegetable consumption.

FP - How can you increase vegetable consumption in Italy?
GDA - If we knew all the answers, we would not be affected by the drop in consumption! It is clear how at times like these, we must think and cooperate with all the actors along the chain.

Improving quality and productivity must be interpreted as innovation for final consumers - product and process innovation.

The relationship with Modern Distribution must also change, as consumers must be put at the centre and special offers and prices have to be adapted to the needs of all targets. Bonduelle can play a fundamental role for the development of consumption.

FP - Discount stores like Lidl are extremely competitive as regards the price of vegetables. How does that affect you?

GDA - Modern shoppers can now make their own choices concerning distribution formats and brands. Despite the fact that prices are very relevant at the moment, it cannot change what are the minimum acceptable standards.

Many leading brands are now available in discounts and it does not seem to me that companies like Coca-Cola, Barilla or Ferrero are finding it difficult to manage a suitable offer for discount shoppers as well as for the shoppers of other sales channels.

For further info: Bonduelle Italia

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