Talking Shop with… Ryan Tu

The president of Pasta Prima says the difference between today’s and yesterday’s gluten-free products is quality.

Grocery Headquarters: What are the current trends and opportunities in the gluten-free category?
Ryan Tu:
Gluten-free has been a rising trend for a number of years now. With Americans more conscious than ever about how the foods they eat can affect their own health and wellbeing, it’s no surprise that the amount of gluten that we eat in our diet has come under scrutiny. Yet at the same time, it doesn’t mean that we are all ready to give up gluten in our diets. As studies have shown, only a small fraction of the population adheres to a gluten-free diet. This suggests that rather than eliminating gluten altogether, the majority of consumers (apart from the celiac or gluten-intolerant population) is simply supplementing their meals with more gluten-free options.

The difference between today’s and yesterday’s gluten-free products is quality. To stand out in the category today, products must taste as good or better than their gluten containing counterparts. Consumers are no longer accepting the fact that gluten-free cannot and does not taste good. A family wants to be able to serve gluten-free products and enjoy them too.

By developing the first gluten-free refrigerated pasta, which has a taste and texture that is just as good as wheat pasta, Pasta Prima is meeting this new consumer trend in gluten-free products. For the first time, families with both gluten tolerant and intolerant members can enjoy our ravioli together without compromising quality or taste.

What is the story behind your gluten-free products?
Our mission is always to produce only the highest quality products and our journey to develop the first refrigerated gluten-free ravioli on the market was no different. This pasta would have to meet our high standards to taste and feel like authentic Italian pasta, which is no easy task as gluten is also the same glue that holds our ravioli together and gives the pasta that wonderful texture.

After trying more than 100 versions and conducting countless taste tests, we knew that we had reached our goal when our taste testers preferred the gluten-free version to regular wheat pasta.

What can you tell us about your company’s history and philosophy?
Pasta Prima is a family-owned producer of gourmet pasta dishes with a mission to create healthy, 100% natural foods. Located near the renowned Napa Valley in California, we are inspired by the region’s rich history of fresh and local produce, gourmet cuisine, and fine wines. We have dedicated ourselves for over 25 years to creating and producing only the highest quality pastas for our customers to enjoy.

Pasta Prima is also strongly committed to producing delicious products that are produced with a light environmental footprint. We recently completed an investment in renewable solar energy as part of our commitment to sustainable manufacturing. Just as consumers trust us for great flavor and 100% natural ingredients, we want them to have confidence in our green energy commitment as the first and only pasta company to produce all of its products using 100% renewable energy.

We believe that our 100% natural products are much more than just printing those words on a package. Each of our chef-selected ingredients comes from the earth—wholesome, all natural, minimally processed. What we can’t use is recycled offsite so that food is never wasted. Our ingredient statements read like made-from-scratch recipes that any mom can understand: no preservatives, nothing artificial. The best part is that our filled pastas taste incredible. The rich and bold flavors come from the wholesome ingredients themselves, not flavor enhancers or additives.

What qualities and features that make your products stand out?
Pasta Prima is known best for our filled pastas such as ravioli and tortellini. Slice into any one of our hand-crafted ravioli and you are sure to find large bites of all white meat chicken, North Atlantic lobster, Portobello mushroom, or fresh-cut spinach. The restaurant-quality fillings and natural ingredients are what make our products stand out.

Each tray of our filled pastas also includes a unique Parmesan and herb packet, which allows our consumers to enjoy a complete meal without having to shop for additional sauce.

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