Interview to Claudio Colzani, Chief Executive Officer
Next years will be challenging for all of us: we want to design our distinctiveness only working, hand in hand, with everyone has the will to support us on our journey.
2016 was a complex year for the global economy: weak, volatile and uncertain markets were characterized also by a significant food deflation. How was the year for you, in Barilla?
Despite this though situation, in 2016 Barilla recorded another year of growth. In our “meal solutions” category we grew ahead of the markets and a special mention goes to our sauces business with a strong top-line performance.
Whilst replacing palm oil in our complete portfolio, indeed, we suffered in the “bakery business” in Italy, even if we reinforced our presence in France. We continued our geographic expansion in developing economies: Brazil, Middle East and Russia. And, furthermore, we entered in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We continued to grow our presence in all strategic channels: brick-and-mortar, on line, food service, clubs and restaurants.
Regarding restaurants, last year we opened our first Barilla Restaurant outside the USA, offering the inhabitants and visitors of Dubai the very best in authentic Italian food.
Consequently, are you going to follow this route also in the years to come?
Definitely yes. In 2017 the strategy is not changing. We are driving value and premiumization of our categories through personalization, wellbeing and convenience.
“Ruthless execution” is our commitment in each store that hosts us, with a strong attention for quality and food safety all along our value chains.
We are setting an unprecedented investment plan to update our industrial assets and support our growth ambitions.
We are carrying on our “Diversity and Inclusion” path and “Good for You, Good for the Planet” journey: the strong tangible components that will make our company even more distinctive in the future.
“Good for You, Good for the Planet” (GYGP): your Purpose in doing business. What does concretely means for you?
I strongly believe we have the opportunity to design the future of our company around “Good for You, Good for the Planet”: raising the values of our core categories, making sustainable our geographical expansion and personalizing solutions for our customers and shoppers. We have the responsibility to do it in a unique way: respecting people, animals and the environment and, of course, leveraging diversities.
I always say that Barilla has three strategic pillars: its products, the consumers and its employees. To strategize our distinctiveness for the next years, we have to embed GYGP in all of them: producing the best products ever, serving consumers flawlessly and developing the best talents on the market.
Barilla wants to be even more than a Business Leader. The Group wants to be a “purpose driven” company. How do you translate it into reality every day?
Basically in two ways: first of all making tangible good choices in all its markets, along all its value chains and for all its stakeholders. And, secondly, translating them into a perceived value for consumers, shoppers and all the business partners.
In 2016 this has been clearer than ever: we have replaced the palm oil ingredient in every product of our Italian bakery portfolio. We believe this was the right thing to do, completely aligned with our GYGP strategy. Our priority, in fact, is always to offer consumers products that are everyday “better” for their wellbeing. Through the palm oil replacement, we have significantly reduced the saturated fat of our bakery range and, in few months, provided people with a healthier and more sustainable choice.
Do you think stakeholders and consumers are recognizing your efforts?
We are aware to be part of a broader commitment set by the United Nations in 2015. We have the responsibility to promote and make progress towards a Global Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
We believe we can do that only through open collaborations with many other actors: we consider ourselves a company “open to stakeholders” and we are keen to receive suggestions and set many collaborations to improve our paths.
Also in 2016 the Human Rights Council has awarded Barilla America, for the third time, a score of 100% in the “Corporate Equality Index”.
According to the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare, moreover, Barilla confirms to be the highest ranking Italian company.
In Italy the Procurement Awards 2016 provided us a special mention for the “Sustainable Agriculture” project on durum wheat. We believe these accolades are the mirror of our commitments, reached only through a robust engagement of all our partners and we thank all of them for that.
Finally we are committed in working to guarantee transparency of our efforts and traceability of value chains for all the consumers and shoppers more and better. Next years will be challenging for all of us: we want to design our distinctiveness only working, hand in hand, with everyone has the will to support us on our journey.