The company is now in its third generation: before our current owners, the company was run by our father and before that, his father. Up until twenty-five years ago, the company’s production was made up of only fruit: apples and peaches. The orchard was on a 5-hectare surface; now the family runs production on 45 hectares, both owned and leased.
After several poor harvests from of the fruit orchard, the company decided to bring an asparagus cultivation into production. Asparagus was a niche, yet traditional, product well-loved in in the town of Pernumia. As a result, for some years the company specialized itself exclusively in the asparagus production, in order to obtain a market leading product with continuous development in quality, uniquely sold in the fruit and vegetable markets.
Today the company has developed its technical expertise in the production of the asparagus, as well as the ability to serve the mass market retailers; these skills allow the company to be highly competitive on the market.
This situation developed and demanded an upgrade in organizational terms, developing a great capacity in serving its clients and fulfilling their orders according to their needs. In addition to this, it has become more efficient also thanks to the strategic variable cost in comparison to the competitors on the market.
At the beginning of the 2000s the company decided to turn to the Mass Market Retailers, starting contacts with a local brand (Alì spa); from that moment on, the company started to be known and appreciated in the market, getting new brands among its clients every year.
At the moment, the company is mostly collaborating with the Mass Market Retailers; besides ALI' it serves UNICOMM, ASPIAG, METRO, SISA, SMA. A small part of the produce is exported abroad (Germany and Japan) via a company which specializes in providing catering service of Italian produce; it also collaborates with the wholesale fruit and vegetable markets of Treviso, Padova, Mestre, Verona and Milano, yet this business is limited to fixed price sales and pre-ordered products.
The market is highly competitive: besides the local competitors, the area around the town of Pernumia is traditionally suited to the cultivation of asparagus and a lot of farm businesses and farmers’ cooperative work on it; there are other producers located in the typical areas of the asparagus cultivation (Veneto, Trentino and other Italian regions, but these regions usually only produce the green asparagus). The competitive advantage, besides differentiating the product, mainly consists of the superior quality: guaranteed by both the different production techniques and by the characteristics of the soil.
In order to stay competitive on the market the company has invested on assets and, most importantly, on cutting edge technology for machinery, specific for the company’s production needs. The computerization of the company's activities mainly involves managing the storehouse production (computerized control of machinery and equipment) and, to a lesser extent, managing the field production as well as recording facts and activities.
As a consequence, the company succeeded in increasing its efficiency, also leveraging the strategic variable cost. Supplying the mass market retailers required a capacity to fulfill the clients’ orders with an extremely limited lead time between the arrival of the order and the departure of the packages for delivery. In addition to this, a greater automation required an extremely accurate planning in the packaging and manufacture. As a result of the enhanced company structure, the client service was also improved, thanks to a greater flexibility and emergency management.
In order to meet its old and new clients’ needs, the production on the leased land had to be increased continuously. This production is occasionally integrated with the production of other local businesses, purchasing the raw materials to be processed from other companies. Agreements were made with these partner businesses, and the products were selected by quality.
This purchasing of products works in a similar way for the suppliers of asparagus crowns (from Dutch nurseries): the raw material is bought and agreed with the suppliers directly at their base, which the company visits a couple of times per year. As the brand became established on the market, the business relations with the mass market retailers became stronger, so the company began to create a confrontation approach with them; in addition to the clients’ requests, there have been proposals on the company’s side, e.g. new presentation formats of the products (from the classical bundle with variable weight, to the 400-500g pre-packaged trays, or the boxes for self-service at the store).
The company’s strategy is to keep the contacts with the mass market retailers for a supply relationship which lasts longer than the asparagus season. For this reason the radicchio rosso tardivo, courgettes and green beans have been inserted into the production.