La Molisana: a case history 

The company has more than 100 years and four generations elapsed between durum wheat, semolina and pasta. But there is a new and fascinating piece of history. Since the pasta factory was acquired by the Ferro Group in 2011, La Molisana is back to being one of the main character on the stage, thanks to a young and motivated team, led by Ceo Giuseppe Ferro. The real competitive advantage lies in integrated supply chain, in the control of the entire production process, from selection of the best durum wheat, that takes place in the Mill of the group up to the pasta production.

Finally an happy end story. Mr Ferro can you tell us what happend ?

When in 2011 we acquired La Molisana, the company was losing money and was almost completely out of the market . The only thing to do was to roll up our sleeves and start from scratch.  This has resulted in huge investments in the most sensitive sectors. If I look back I see a facility completely different from that I saw two years ago:  in 24 months, we have invested over 12 million Euros for a radical renewal of the production lines, warehouses, engine room and packaging machines.

Now we have 10 production lines with a capacity of 444 tons per day of pasta , 18 packaging lines, all investments in leading brands in quality as Rowema, Altopack and Ricciarelli. Moreover we offer all types of packaging and have built automated warehouses for 23,000 pallet spaces and 10,000 pallet spaces, creating an advanced logistics platform. Today we have a range of about 100 pasta shape and an internal production of egg pasta, that represents the flagship of the company . Furthermore we are working on a project that is close to my heart: the trigeneration that will allow us to reduce our environmental footprints and save up to € 700 000 per year.

What is the growth trend?

The market share of speak for itselves: we have grown from 0.3% to 3.2% with an average of slightly more than one  point percentage per year, that we hope to replicate in 2014. The production has gone from 20 thousand to 70 thousand tons per year and revenue forecasts in 2014 come to EUR 70 million for the only pasta.

What is the trend on foreign markets?

Pasta La Molisana records double-digit growth rates in the BRIC countries, where a new line of products for children, will soon be introduced in restaurant chains mainly with a family target. Even in Japan, our premium pasta is ready to enter in supermarkets, in synergy with the Japanese giant Suntory, the industry's leading food & beverage.  In numerical terms, we can say that the export increased of 75% in 2012 and +60% in 2013, also the countries of export has risen from 30 to 50.

What were the levers you played to win back the market?

To regain the market we have relied on three aspects: the raw material, the production method and the pack & product innovation. In fact attentive to the demands of the market, we have gradually opted for a bronze die range as requested by the market and revolutionized the packaging focusing on white and transparency. Moreover we have supported massive investments for a imposing renewal of the facility. Just two years after the acquisition, the group makes € 130 million with an equal split between Molino and Pasta factory. We have grown exponentially in the past few years and continue growing today. We hope the trend keeps on in 2014.

Which are basically the characteristics of a premium pasta?

Pasta is a simple food made ​​of semolina and water.To ensure that the finished product is excellent, both raw materials must be of excellent quality. For us, we manage the entire supply chain that is a prerequisite . If for the first element the nature is the only provider offering pure water flowing at 1850m, perfect for pasta production, for the second La Molisana is able to guarantee since we have a real cult of the durum wheat. In fact, the Ferro are millers since four generations and have been seriously working  for over a century in the milling sector, where they have gained credibility and access to the most prized varieties that we transform into the purest semolina. To obtain a product that has tenacity, an high protein value and an appreciable yellow index, it is necessary to mix expertly different varieties of durum wheat. This is the know-how that we have passed from generations IV. The result of this mix is a pasta product rich in yellow color as the field of wheat, with a protein value never less than 14% a low ash content equal to 0.82 and finally an index of ten

How important is being able to manage the entire supply chain?

We always say that only those who grind directly is able to ensure the integrity of pasta and to preserve its content in protein, calcium and minerals. In the mill we select the raw material with the more stringent criteria, nonetheless durum wheat enters into processing only if it corresponds to the required quality standards. In addition, we devote to the Pasta factory, which is just 500 meters from semolerie, freshly ground semolina.

Tell us about the Spaghetto Quadrato, news of the year.

A winning choice rewarded by consumers who have appreciated this new product. Infact ot was launched on the market on last May and became shortly a top seller in just 6 months.

It is priced because of its original form, that breaks the routine of traditional spaghetti and is appreciated both in Italy and abroad for the thickness that makes chewing a unique experience. Due to its relevant thickness it is also perfect for HORECA purpose in fact has been tested by many chefs who consider it brilliant!

In the world of food La Molisana represents a case history.What is the secret of this success?

The results achieved excite us and we are happy to be the success story of an 100% Italian brand who had a difficult time but was able to reborn in 24 months, becoming the 5th national brand although there is still a lot of work to do and a lot of sacrifices to deal with.

The secret? More than a secret I would say that we enjoy a great privilege to control the entire production chain. We benefit from the competitive advantage of having a thorough supervision of supply markets, of the industrial assets, elements that are able to enhance the finished product.An important aspect not to be overlooked is the value of the team. We have carefully built a team of young and motivated people with different and complementary professional profiles and a great enthusiasm for the company and its projects. And additionally passion, love and imagination!

Giuseppe Ferro (a.d. La Molisana)

Giuseppe Ferro

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