Talking shop with… Michele Bauli

The vice president of Bauli, based in Verona, Italy, discusses the company’s future in light of its recent acquisition.

Grocery Headquarters: Tell us about Bauli. What does it produce?
Michele Bauli:
Bauli is a company founded by my grandfather in 1922. It has always been run by our family and I am the third generation involved with this business. We are currently the largest manufacturer of panettone, pandoro and croissants in Italy.

Our holiday products, panettone and pandoro, account for 50% of our profits. The other 50% comes from products sold outside the holiday period, such as croissants, mini-croissants and other confectionary products. We make three million pieces of croissants a day with a production cycle lasting from 25 hours to 30 hours. We have 41% of the panettone and pandoro market in Italy. We are in 68 countries, mainly in Europe, North and South America.

You have recently purchased a division from Nestlé. How will that impact your business?
In 1993, Nestlé bought Motta and Alemagna, the second largest producer of panettone. We purchased them last summer to strengthen our position in the marketplace. It makes us the biggest in Italy and perhaps the world. We have these three brands now and we will continue to market these three brands—Bauli, Motta and Alemagna.

Our goal is to strengthen these brands all around Europe and the U.S. We now have the ability to market a larger number of products and we can be very competitive in the markets we serve.

Bauli has established a niche in the supermarket and specialty store business. Tell us about your strategy in this regard.
In the U.S., there is a lot of panettone available from Italy as well as outside Italy and some of it is not really panettone. There is a law in Italy that says it can only be called panettone if it meets a number of high standards. We meet and exceed those standards on our products. Many of these other brands may sound Italian, but they are not real panettone at all and do not meet the designated standards.

We will continue to support the Bauli brand in North America and we are committed to adding new items every year such as cookies, crackers and croissants to ensure that the Bauli brand is on store shelves everyday throughout the year. We will support our products with advertising and public relations.

I believe that the strength of a company is in the brand. Our brand is strong in Italy and Europe. In North America, we need to be on the shelves all year round so the consumer becomes familiar with seeing our brand and we begin to build more brand awareness.

What do you recommend retailers do to maximize sales of your products?
It all begins with the trade demanding authentic products for their stores and their consumers. It is then up to the manufacturer, to communicate and help educate the consumer.  It is important for the retailer to support quality and authenticity and at the same time we, the manufacturer, will support the brand so that consumers that want to try authentic and traditional products like panettone and pandoro will have the opportunity of finding them at retail easily and affordably.

What new offerings do you have coming in the next year?
We are introducing bread crackers under the Bauli brand name. The market for crackers and bread substitutes in the U.S. presents us with an opportunity because ours are distinct from other products because they are made with natural leavening. We also have new cookies and shelf-stable cakes. With our technology, and using natural leavening we are able to offer ready-to-serve cakes that are shelf stable and have a very long shelf life without any additives.

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