A taste of Italy
A strong and reactive development team stand alongside a highly efficient and ever-improving production facility as Mamma Lucia looks towards becoming a market leader in Italian ready meals
Founded in Belgium in 1991 and later bought by the Italian Rana family, an Italian leader in fresh pasta in 2006, Mamma Lucia is a pasta-based ready meal factory specialised in producing ready meals both under its own brands and under private labels. Over the years Mamma Lucia has established for itself a strong reputation for high quality, good value products that can be found on the shelves of some the most well known retailers across Europe.
From its single, 14,000 square metre factory, which is staffed by between 200 and 220 people, the Mamma Lucia facility focuses mainly on the production of hot fillings via a fully automated production line. Typical products for the manufacturer include fresh products, lasagne, macaroni and penne-based ready meals. All focused on bringing true Italian flavour to many of its client’s labels, the Mamma Lucia portfolio clearly represents a passionate and highly skilled development team.
“Our strength is that we are very reactive to the market demands and are very flexible in this regard,” begins Managing Director, Rudi Loiseau speaking to FoodChain magazine. “We have a good research and development team, which is made up of specialists in pasta and sauces. This way we can understand very quickly what our clients want and we can demonstrate a very short turnaround time from starting the product development in the kitchen to launching it on the production line.”
Rudi goes on to point out that within its clients’ market segments trends continue to develop and new products are always sought. “For the private labels we always have to follow the market trends because our clients are always looking to offer something better than their competitors,” he says. “This is our primary remit and our R&D team of ten are always working on new products, usually typical Italian products.”
With regards to its own brand products, Mamma Lucia is able to approach development with a freer, more innovative focus. Whilst its roots continue to remain in traditional Italian flavours, the company has developed spinach and ricotta, tomato and mozzarella, and aubergine lasagnes amongst many other offerings.
Mamma Lucia’s reputation has grown alongside this strategy and this is predominantly defined by its close attention to quality. In order to maintain these levels the company undergoes a continuous programme of investment into its facilities. “We invest heavily on a yearly basis to ensure that our production tools are ahead of the existing new technologies,” Rudi outlines. “Continuing to develop our automisation is key too.”
The high levels of quality that result are such that Mamma Lucia currently supplies one of the UK’s largest and fastest growing discount retailers. “The UK market is growing very quickly,” Rudi says. “We have seen discounters stocking more and more premium products right now and their quality standards are very high. With our stockist in the UK our products are recognised as a premium offering so this is very good for our position in that market.”
With successful footholds already established in a number of its markets, the future for the company will be focused on carrying on as usual. “We particularly want to work on the efficiency of our site,” Rudi continues. “The quality of our product is now recognised by everybody so this is something we have to maintain. By working on efficiency by investing and keeping our tools updated, we will be able to stay ahead of the market. So this is what we will be looking at over the next year or so. Even further ahead, it is all about continued expansion. Our owner is challenging us every day to work on new creations for the Italian market. They want to us to challenge ourselves across the entire factory, and to invest and expand in order to become a leader in the market. It is a challenge given the strong competition that exists, but we are confident that we will be navigate this carefully and successfully.”