The Monini company was established in 1920 by Zefferino Monini and today it continues its activities with a new generation. What are the elements of continuity compared to the past, and how does an historical company such as this one continue to innovate itself? “Certainly, the first 40 years of the Monini company were dedicated to a regional presence, quickly aiming at extra virgin olive oil right from the beginning — which is the most difficult product to produce but also the healthiest. Starting from the 1970s, Monini oil spread at a national level and became, in the extra virgin category, the market leader. At the end of the 1990s, we opened up to the European markets and finally, in 2000, we arrived in the United States. The continuity is represented by the respect for tradition and the raw material, but above all, by the quality that has remained at the highest level. Today, Monini allocates 35% of its production to exports: Europe is at the head, with countries such as Poland, Russia, Switzerland, but also the United States, Canada and Asia. We are also growing well in China. In 2001, Monini invested in Australia, in New South Wales, acquiring 700 hectares of land in which 300 are allocated for cultivation. We have established a modern olive grove with 110 thousand plants of Frantoio, Leccino, Pendolino and Coratina, which were brought over as young plants from Italy”.
In the United States, how is consumption of your oil distributed geographically?
“The East Coast absorbs 30% of our United States exports, with cities such as New York, Boston and Philadelphia at the head. In North America, 60% of our production is distributed to retail, while 40% to the food service industry. Before, we were present almost exclusively 100% in the food service industry, which is the primary lead industry if you want to begin breaking into foreign markets. Today, other cities, such as Chicago, are in net growth — or even Los Angeles. In the future, we are aiming at smaller markets, in more rural areas”.
What are the error that Italian companies often make when they wish to enter the US market with their products?
“Companies often arrive in the United States thinking that it will be an easy win because the company is already consolidated in Italy. Many arrive in America with an Italian approach, but you have to remember that this country has different rules, and above all, a different culture. The most important thing is to remember that the Untied States does not represent one market, but different markets, from Florida to Portland, from the East Coast to the West – they are all states, areas, with different mentalities and cultures, where you must convey the product with different messages and strategies. I advise, if you want to be successful in America, to survey the various geographical areas — explore them, get to know them, aim at continuity, understand how the mentality works, and don’t ever get discouraged”.
How does Monini defend the Made in Italy merchandise mark and what will the brand look like in 20 years?
“Our brand has always been characterized by the production of extra virgin olive oil, at 95%. Since being present in the United States, we do not make an ad hoc product for the American market. Our oil arrives directly from Italy – we do not have a plant in the United States, except for our business headquarters that manages sales and inventory. The products that are sold on the shelves in Italy, in Europe, are the same products that arrive in the United States. Our product is authentic, of quality. We do not compromise on the quality to satisfy the pockets of American consumers that want to spend less. In 20 years from now, I imagine – and hope – Monini will be a consolidated brand that has reached great results, but that can and must still grow, especially in the American market”.