magazine top

Fiorentini Firenze S.p.A. is one of Italy’s major marketers of bottled extra virgin olive oil. The company was founded in 1996 and is specialized in processing, bottling-packaging and storing extra virgin olive oil for a large clientele that now includes some of the most important Italian and European retail chains as well as the main food industry multinationals. Fiorentini Firenze has modern bottling-packaging lines and it exports private label products all over the world. The company is also one of the largest virgin olive oil storage centers in Italy. The firm invests in the latest technology, ecology and research laboratories to meet the highest customer requirements and international quality standards.

An extensive interview about key aspects of the company’s operations was given by Mr. Luca Cetoloni, Plant Director in Fiorentini Firenze S.p.A.

Fiorentini Firenze S.p.A. has been dynamically developing its operations for many years in Europe, currently being one of the most important players on the market of packing olive oil. Could you briefly present the genesis of the company?

The firm was founded on the recommendation of the Fusi family, who have been active in the olive oil market for ten years and sold the raw material in bulk through Castel del Chianti company. To meet the wishes of various customers, the family decided to implement packaging lines so that the service offer was complete in 360 °. This is how Fiorentini Firenze was created.

What, in your opinion, can be indicated as the main reasons for the company’s success?

Fiorentini Firenze stands out on the packaging market for the flexibility with which it manages the over 500 SKUs of finished product, for which it uses over 60 types of different containers and over 1500 codes of packaging material, respecting with a high percentage the KPIs agreed with customers. To satisfy our clients’ needs, Fiorentini Firenze selects and purchases extra virgin olive oil from more than 150 growers, 200 olive presses and cooperatives in Italy and in the entire Mediterranean basin. Quality is the cornerstone of Fiorentini Firenze philosophy. The identity of each extra virgin olive oil originates from the blending process used. This is the most important and delicate phase that requires the highest degree of sensitivity in terms of taste, professionalism and experience. The composition of the blend makes a product that is ready for the bottling and has the chemical and organoleptic characteristics demanded by the client. We work hard to get to know our customers and to satisfy them according to their needs and preferences.

What are the exclusive elements that make your company unique from the point of view of design, production and storage?

The customer (mainly large-scale distribution) uses the product development service within the company, which includes designs and develops products following the customer’s guidelines. Thus, the client not only buys a bottle of oil but also all the indirect services connected to it. With regard to production, the introduction and application of the fundamentals of Lean Manufacturing, 5S and TPM has allowed us to arrive at a lean and flexible production that is generally not found in factories operating in our sector. We are pioneers and develop high-quality packaging that is often specifically designed to meet customer preferences and requirements, offering endless possibilities in materials, formats, capsules and labelling. Our extensive range of olive oil packaging includes PET bottles from 125 ml to 5 liters, glass bottles from 250 ml to 1 liter, as well as cans from 3 to 5 liters and ceramic bottles from 250 ml to 750 ml. Our storage centre is one of the biggest olive oil warehouses in Italy with a capacity of almost 8 million litres at a temperature guaranteed by an air conditioning system (18-22 °C). The company’s storage capacity is more than 7,500 tons which is necessary for processing activities, divided into 73 stainless steel silos of different capacities (from 16 to 500 tons). The storage plant is one of the first in Italy to be equipped for the new nitrogen preservation technology and cold cycle processing. The silos containing the oil are filled with nitrogen in order to prevent oxidization and keep temperatures low. Our company cares about ecology and therefore 40% of renewable energy is used in the production of our olive oil.

What investments have been made in the technological innovation sector? Fiorentini Firenze company - does it fit into the Industry 4.0 trend and invest in the latest technologies and solutions?

Our company has made many investment in the last five years by renewing its machine park with plants and equipment with higher production efficiency and greater energy savings. Fiorentini Firenze has inaugurated a new production plant in the province of Siena, in Colle val d’elsa, which replaced the historic one of Barberino Tavarnelle in the second half of 2016. The cycle of production is composed by the most modern equipment for bottling and packaging and by 6 bottling lines with an average capacity of 10.000 bottles per hour. A new storage shed is being completed which will allow a further increase in storage capacity by means of highly technological equipment and systems.

Could you tell us about the quality control system used in your company?

Quality in our company is understood at 360 °. Product quality, with the control at various stages of raw material production thanks to an internal laboratory with the most sophisticated equipment, process quality with production control in all its phases, quality of service thanks to the customer care, quality of the environment thanks to the use of renewable energy sources and quality of work thanks to the introduction of specific Policies for Gender Equality, of the 231 model that carries with it the related code of ethics. The bottles used are new and kept in separate rooms, in suitable hygienic conditions. In any case, once they enter the packaging line they are subjected to additional precautionary hygiene and control measures.

Achieving success in business would not be possible without proper management and qualified personnel. How many people does the company currently employ? Could you tell us more about the specialist staff of Fiorentini Firenze?

Fiorentini employees are currently 53, of which 30 in the packaging and maintenance department. To these are added a number of people ranging from 25 to 30 of the Professional Solution company, to which the logistics services of the plant have been outsourced. Our sourcing team directly and continuously monitors the main production and the export markets to guarantee our customers the quality and the number of olive oils with the most coil competitive prices.

What company strategies have proved most useful over time?

Certainly, the diversification of the geographical areas that allows to compensate for the drop in demand that from time to time occur in the different geographical areas together with the choice to operate in a flexible way, responding to the most disparate requests from the various markets. The willingness to offer the product design service and the availability of areas that allow customers to carry out a warehouse service complete the reasons of our success.

Your company is so successful that it has decided to expand its reach to international markets. Where are your main markets located? How is sale developing on foreign markets?

Our first steps on the foreign markets began in 1998 with the United States and then with Germany in 2001. Since then, we have grown by more than 20% annually, to the point that we passed the thirty million bottles mark in 2007. Growth has remained constant, in fact at the end of 2015 the number of bottles sold exceeded 40.000.000 for a total turnover of 136 million Euros broken down as follows: 65% to the international market, mainly Germany (Lidl) and United States (Walmart), the remaining 35% to the domestic market.

How have the markets and customers changed in recent years?

Quite stable, there are no major changes. We are trying to enter complicated markets for our product, such as China.

What are the current market trends affecting your company?

Olive oil, like any other commodity, is subject to changes in household consumption. In times of inflation, or rather stagflation, that we are experiencing, product demand certainly suffers from the current situation also from rising commodity prices.

What are the directions of the company’s development for the next months, years?

We are currently striving to maintain our position as the leading Italian company in the olive oil packaging market. At the same time, we will continue to focus our efforts on gaining new foreign markets and new satisfied customers.

Follow Us

Most Read