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JUST IN TIME CHEESE FOR DELIVERY ALL OVER THE WORLD: THE CHALLENGE FACED BY ELEONORA ZERBATO
Quality and authenticity have stayed constant for eighty years, while distribution has made giant strides. This has made it possible for soft ricottas made on the farm to be in Australia, Hong Kong and Russia a day later.
The Elda cheese factory, which operates in Vestenanova (Verona province), can boast some enviable numbers: turnover is almost nine million Euros per year (of which 18 percent comes from exports), while production has reached 4500 tons. The large-scale retail brands continue to generate new orders. This is all thanks to a chance taken by Eleonora, Roberta and Luca Zerbato who, having taken over the family business twenty years ago, decided to turn it exclusively into a ricotta producer. They are now enjoying the results achieved from their constant foresight. We asked Eleonora Zerbato to talk about the secret of their success, the challenges which they need to address and especially the specifics of dealing with a foreign customer base.
Mrs Zerbato, how do you manage to deliver fresh ricottas throughout the world within one day?
“It’s all down to investments made in automation and organisation. Just imagine for a moment how a company like ours could achieve these results with just twenty employees. To a large extent we rely on big brands like Mauri but we do also manage a small part of distribution by ourselves”.
What added value does a company like yours provide?
“The fact that we are a family business is certainly an important factor. And then there is the quality of the products, which also comes from our choice of raw materials: in order to make an authentic product, we tend to source from the best suppliers. We consider it particularly important that what we use to produce the ricotta is not considered a by-product and therefore something which would be given little care and attention during the production process”.
What is the greatest difficulty which you face with customers outside Italy?
“The biggest problem is in fact teaching those who are not familiar with Italian cuisine about ricotta. It is a light product which is highly digestible and has a multitude of possible uses, from antipasto to dessert, but this is not always known. There is a particularly erroneous perception that it is fatty. Once it has been tasted however, ricotta is generally appreciated outside Italy and we are happy to make our own small contribution to something which is very often a true culinary discovery”.
Which countries do you have the most well-established relations with?
“Those would essentially be countries within the European market, like France and Great Britain, not forgetting Spain either. In general however, we reach all the major countries worldwide, which is also down to the power of large-scale retail”.
What do you see as the future challenges for the Elda cheese factory?
“We are developing a range of products oriented specifically to the foreign customer base: they are still based on ricotta but are already prepared. This allows them to be served straight on the dining table in a way that also conveniently allows those who do not know this cheese to have the opportunity to try it”.