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Marco Rosi, the challenge of Parmacotto
Rome - (Adnkronos Multimedia) - the challenge was tough, not to say unique, in the panorama of the Italian food industry: transforming a traditional cottage industry, such as the production of pork products sold by the slice, into a real industrial activity, investing everything on a specific product, cooked ham, which up until then had not enjoyed a great reputation with consumers. But Marco Rosi, 57, who was born and grew up surrounded by the gastronomic traditions of a city such as Parma, at the international forefront of good food, had no doubts that this was the way forward. And so in 1978, he set up Parmacotto, a brand which, first in Italy and then on many important foreign markets, transformed the very idea of cooked ham, which until then had been considered a second-class product.
Mr Rosi, how did you get this idea?
"Up until then products sold by the slice didn't have particular brand images. Shoppers weren't interested in who had produced it. Our idea was to turn this situation on its head, to build up a quality brand and focus on it, exploiting the reference to the city of Parma, and its gastronomic tradition".
Quite a brave move, don't you think?
"Only time can award the accolade of bravery. If you're successful, then people think you're brave; but if you lose, you're considered foolhardy. We started with a brand, we focused on its image, proposing a product of extremely high quality, and we managed in a relatively short time to make an impression on consumers".
You started with the brand and now you're also offering pre-packaged cold meats. Is this a step backwards or a change in strategy?
"No, simply the combination of different distribution models. And also in this case it was not an easy challenge to take on: transferring the same quality that we have always ensured for products to be sold by the slice to pre-packaged goods. This involved significant effort and investment in technology and organisation. The move was made possible by taking over Parmamec, in 2001, a company already active in the production of sliced hams and salami and ready-made meals. Today this activity represents around half of our overall turnover".
With turnover of over âŹ 110 million, 3 production facilities producing 300,000 kg of hams and salamis every week, the challenge on the Italian market seems to have been won. What about foreign markets?
"Competition is very difficult on international markets. Also because food production cannot be localised. Italian products in this sector cannot be realised anywhere else. It's a question of tradition, of productive capacity, of a link with the strong values of our history and, above all with our territory. These are all things we cannot renounce, because the strength of our products is their quality and, together with this, their provenance".
What markets have you focused on ?
"Above all Europe. We are present in a large number of countries, mainly with sales corners in a number of large-scale distribution chains. We are particularly interested in France, Germany and the United Kingdom, and hope to develop our presence there. And then there is the United States, a distant and difficult market, but where we offer authentic Italian products. And we intend to further develop our presence in America. We have been certified for export to the USA by American quality-control bodies for over 10 years and we don't intend to throw in the towel, even if this is a difficult time for European companies aiming to develop there because of the dollar/euro exchange rate".
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