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Policom: the almond tradition "guides" the Plant based in Calabria

Interview with Tito Polimeni, Marketing & Sales Director of the company

In the first half of 2021, the consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables in Italy stood at 2.9 million tons between January and June, with an increase in the consumption of vegetable proteins in general, which today represent 22% of the total of proteins consumed in Italy. There was an increase in the consumption of plant-based products, whose sales in large-scale distribution reported + 14.7% in the first half of 2021 compared to the previous year (see EFA News article of 22-12-21).

A growth also found by the Policom company, a reality based in Campo Calabro (RC) specializing in the production of finished and semi-finished products based on almonds, dried fruit and chocolate. "The company was founded in 1980 as a family business. It was a small pastry shop dedicated to the production of typical Calabrian recurring products and then gradually over time, it has been characterized in the dried fruit market, as a player specialized in the processing of almond both in the B2B and B2C fields ”, explains Tito Polimeni, Marketing & Sales Director, to EFA News's microphones.

What are the leading products of your company, which are the major distribution channels and in what percentages?

“As far as the finished products are concerned, the leading ones are definitely the vegetable drinks, in particular almond milk and spreads based on almond, hazelnut and pistachio. As regards, however, B2B products, they are mainly semi-finished products for industry, pastry and ice cream based on dried fruit. The most important distribution channels are the retail channel with the world of large-scale distribution, especially abroad; and the industry channel is also another important part. If we wanted to give percentages, we could say that last year (2021) we closed with a 70% share destined for the retail channel and 40% destined for the professional channel".

The almond tradition, which characterizes the Calabria Region, has in a certain sense "guided" and supported the market introduction of some plant based products of the company. "The Calabria Region, which has a history of consumption and production of almond-based products, has obviously well received all the product lines that we have launched over the years. Almond milk and pasta have triumphed over all of them. almond and for some years now also spreadable creams. So the tradition, both of my family and of the place very close to dried fruit, has been helpful for the launch of our product lines on the market", Polimeni explained.

The company, in addition to the other regions of Italy, also works very actively abroad. “We closed 2021 with 60% of turnover produced abroad. A turnover that is mainly concentrated in countries such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and we also have a presence in Hong Kong. Then we also have very important markets in Europe: so we are talking about France, as well as Germany and Eastern Europe is also growing a lot. We already export to Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Macedonia. We are consolidating our presence in Hungary and we are also speeding up our presence in the northern part of Europe with the Scandinavian countries. Then there are already mature countries such as North Africa, Central and Southern Europe and Latin America”, continued Polimeni.

But, how does the company look to 2022? Are you planning to create new products?

“We have already launched some excellent references at the end of 2021, which we clearly intend to consolidate in 2022. In the world of beverages, we have a Professional premium line, that is almond-based products destined for the vegetable kitchen line. As far as spreads are concerned, we are planning the launch, already partially carried out, of the vegan line that does not contain milk or other ingredients of animal origin. This joins the traditional spreads, under our flagship brand Crem'Or. Finally, we are already working on projects that will be ready in the next three months, in the world of oat and rice based drinks”.

Speaking of sustainability, what does it mean for the company and what are you doing on this issue?

“As far as products are concerned, we have already invested in a packaging line that is as sustainable as possible. Therefore products that derive in part or in whole from renewable energy sources and that limit the ingredients of fossil origin. This is a project we have already started working on, we have already done it with primary packaging and we are doing it with secondary packaging. As for the company, our new plant in Campo Calabro in the province of Reggio Calabria, which we started in 2019, is a plant that already aims at sustainability. We have a photovoltaic system for the production of solar energy. All lines, production departments and offices are illuminated by LED technology. We already have rainwater recovery that allows us to manage both the green of the company, but also some internal production lines. Finally, we are planning to invest in electric mobility as well. So there is a project for the installation of electric charging stations, which will be used both by our employees, but also by visitors”.

The company was among those present at Cibus 2021, the great food fair of the Parma Fairs (see EFA News article of 15-9-21). Are you planning to participate in other trade fairs?

“Cibus is a reference fair for us, we have always done it and we will continue to do it, so much so that we have already formalized the registration for the 2022 edition. The news will obviously be products. As for the other sector fairs, we can say that in pre-pandemic periods we usually worked on at least 7-9 international events a year. Clearly with Covid we have had to downsize. Unfortunately, 2022 did not start very well because we have already had two out of three international events canceled. So we hope that, once the Cibus has been confirmed and other fairs that should theoretically start next spring are confirmed, we will still remain within 4-5 international events”, concluded Polimeni.

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EFA News - European Food Agency