Grissin Bon and Lidl have become business partners

Guido Spinelli, export manager of the Italian company, tells about the deal with the Germany leading retail business and the future plans in the US grocery market
Grissin Bon and Lidl have become business partners

One is a famous Italian food brand: Grissin Bon. The other is one of the biggest supermarket chains in Europe. They have become business partners. “There was a long period of courtship” – says Guido Spinelli, export manager – “during which we convinced the big German discounter  that Grissin Bon will be supplier for bread stick items. We also assured them that even if they paid a little more they will have the best quality and the sales will benefit from this choice”. And this really happens. Lidl increased the percentage of sales, up 20% in 2014. Spinelli stressed that the the timeline was very short and sales in the German market started increasing immediately. Lidl‘s business then expanded all over the Eu in the bakery sector: above all in Spain and France. This partnership reflects the current trend of the European and globalised food market which is targeting more Italian private brands.

Which products do you sell for Lidl?

We are present with four references. We supplied them with the same products that we have here in Italy, that is to say Fagolosi bread sticks. It is not the same Italian reference and packaging but it is the same quality of raw materials. The first type is the Turin bread stick, the classic one is the second, the third is the flat type of bread stick and the fourth reference is private label. Atfirst we worked for them with our own brand. After one year, when Lidl realized that sales had a positive trend, then we turned to exclusive private label. Presently we are the exclusive official supplier for Lidl.

Where is Lidl distributing your products?

We deliver to Lidl International based in Germany. Our products are delivered from Germany to numerous Eu countries such as Spain, France, Austria.

Which countries are you targeting?

We are targeting the US market. We have previously flirted with local producers of the North US market and the aim is to expand our presence in the West Coast and in California where food service and restaurants Italinise menus much more. It is a clear sign of its desire to discover Italian food brands. Asia is the second important market for our company and it is a largely untapped market. We will be presenting at Thaifex in Bangkok and at Fancy Food in New York. In the EU market we have blocked investments and we will not be presenting at Anuga in Cologne this year. In the domestic market we are maintaining our positioning but it is hard to keep going.

How about the US market?

For a long time the private brand has been successful only in the EU market and in very traditional sectors. Now also the United States, which are becoming more conscious about nutrition, food education and healthy products, is seeking for private brand more and premium products. Italy is one of the favorite countries for food . The US grocery sector is asking us to make a range of references in private label but we need assurance in terms of volume and shipping. We are evaluating some alternatives.

What about Asia food trends in bakery?

Asia is a very new market and it is quite hard to meet bakery demand and fulfill consumer needs for bread and bread sticks because they have no tradition in this area. They are now taking stepsinto modernity and Western gastronomy. In North China we sell bread and they want Italian biscuits. In Thailand and North Korea they are appreciating more crispbread as a bakery solution and this is a key step in the process of embracing Italian taste. Our core business products, that is to say Fagolosi bread sticks, is suffering a lack of culture and we sell only in to big hotels and luxury food service.




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