Exclusive: Going Beyond the “Comfort Zone”
Consumer behavior regarding innovative potato products, raw material shortages and careful selection of ingredients during processing are just some of the points I touched upon in this exclusive interview with Nicola Spanu, marketing manager of Pizzoli S.p.A., one if Italy’s best-known potato processors.
What are the current market trends concerning processed potatoes and what do consumers prefer?
The frozen French fries product category has always been synonymous with taste and convenience. In fact, the choice of the products is mainly driven by the need of convenience combined with the desire for a tasty and quick to prepare food. Generally, consumers search for the affordable products belonging to a “comfort zone”, defined by usual brands and formats. The preferred item is the stick, but the less common shapes represent important opportunities to intercept the needs of specific market segments. Our “Mickey Mouse Croccomagie”, an absolute success among the little ones, represents a practical example of this aspect. Currently, the greatest evolution in consumer purchase decisions can be found in the growing interest towards products characterized by simple and natural ingredients and produced through sustainable production processes from both the environmental and the social point of view.
Please describe the innovative potato products in your portfolio.
Barchette Patasnella is one of our latest most successful innovative products. The product, thanks to its original v-cut ideal for catching sauces, offers a perfect balance between taste and crunchiness. Brachette Patasnella, after having passed specific tests performed on a sample of over 12,000 individuals, has been awarded of the “Voted product of the year” 2018 prize, testifying the positive reception of the product by the consumers.
What are your core target markets and are there any plans for expansion?
Our company is mainly focused on the domestic market, in which we occupy a leading position. Currently we export limited quantities in countries, like Japan, in which we have built stable and lasting partnerships. However, in last years, we are increasing the level of investments in order to address new foreign markets, for example through the participation in important international trade shows.
Which are some of the main challenges associated with processed potatoes and how do you address them?
One of the most crucial aspects in the production of frozen French fries is represented by the raw material, which strongly affects the productive yield of the transformation process. This year, for example, we have witnessed a particularly difficult growing and harvesting season, both in Italy and in Northern Europe, due to the extraordinarily negative weather conditions for the potato crop, with heavy rains in spring, which have led to delayed planting operations, long periods of drought and the now known summer cloudbursts. These conditions determined lower production yields from both the quantitative and the qualitative point of view. For this reason, we are even more committed in a joint effort with all the players of the supply chain for offering always the best products to the consumers. From the practical point of view, our strategy for managing and mitigating the risks associated with the raw material includes a geographical diversification of the supply areas, involving the most suited Italian growing regions, and a strict collaboration with the farmers through our dedicated agronomic team.
You can read the entire article in our print magazine Potato Processing International (Jan/Feb 2019)!