The inspiration to put everything into a fresh vegetable soup business came to Gianmichele Grosso during a stint as a realtor in Florida. Having observed the latest American eating habits first-hand and their passion for healthy, gluten-free ready meals, he decided that this trend would soon catch on back home in Italy. The opportunity to enter the food business, and so get back in touch with his business roots (his family has historical links to the meat sector and, later, logistics), came along three years ago when a friend of the family, whose food company had run into some problems, asked him to become a business partner. The rest is history.
“Today we are working on two parallel business areas, each one completely separate from the other. On the one hand we are manufacturing conventional soups and on the other we are exclusively producing organic, gluten-free products. Our supply chain is 100% transparent, we only buy from certified firms and the fresh ingredients are always prepared, cooked and preserved within eight hours of arriving on site. We have two different preservation methods: blast chilling from 80°C to 4°C for products destined for the Italian market (this method provides a shelf-life of 60 days) and pasteurisation for export products, where the shelf-life requirements are longer (up to 120 days)”.
Viva’s objective is to go from a turnover of 10 to 50 million euros in three years thanks to an ambitious export strategy, which takes its cue from the increasing foreign demand for high quality made in Italy products.
“Our products can be sold anywhere in the world,” Grosso explains, “today we already have a limited presence in Europe, in a few American chains like Central Market, plus a small presence in Russia and Eastern countries as well as in the Uae. In Japan or the Usa, where we do not yet have a presence but where I hope one day we will have a production plant, the challenge will be American competitors, even though you cannot actually find a product like ours anywhere in the world. Fresh foods in the form of deli produce or ready meals do exist in the supermarkets, but in the packaged foods category you can only find sterilized products with a very long shelf-life, that are definitely not fresh. For the time being we are the only player specialising in pasteurised fresh foods, which gives us a huge competitive advantage”.