Barilla identifies Med diet and sustainability as the ‘new culture’ of food

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Aspects of the Mediterranean diet were used to form Barilla's approach in achieving long-term sustainability and improving the health of the population. ©iStock
Aspects of the Mediterranean diet were used to form Barilla's approach in achieving long-term sustainability and improving the health of the population. ©iStock

Related tags: Durum wheat, Wheat

A ‘new culture,’ in which food sustainability and the Mediterranean lifestyle form the pillars to this change, is required to safeguard the health of populations and land resources.

The comments by Guido Barilla, the chairman of the Barilla Group come as the pasta giants release findings from its 2016 sustainability report​ that also detail actions taken in reformulating its products.

“We want to plan our future around our mission Good for You, Good for the Planet,” ​he said.

“To accomplish this we must disseminate a new culture capable of changing the current lifestyle, beginning with new products and processes that are useful to safeguard our future.

“The goal of our development model is for Barilla to promote healthy and joyful eating inspired by the Mediterranean lifestyle”.

Last year, the Company reformulated 150 recipes by replacing palm oil in all its bakery products with vegetable oils that contained less saturated fat such as sunflower oil.

From 2010, around 360 products have been reformulated by Barilla in an attempt to improve their nutritional profiles by decreasing fat, sugar and salt content.

Crop rotation

field farm crop
Crop rotation allows the production of a high-quality durum wheat, whilst improving the fertility of the soil, optimising crop protection treatments and enhancing fertilisers’ effectiveness. ©iStock

The group’s report details its long-term efforts to adopt a more sustainable agricultural approach.

In 2016 Barilla purchased 190,000 tons of sustainable durum wheat—up 30% compared to 2015—adopting methods described in the “Decalogue for Sustainable Cultivation of Durum Wheat​” to increase harvest from 18% in 2015 to 26% in 2016.

Barilla also acknowledged the role of Granoduro.net in its efforts to enhance the production of durum wheat and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and production costs by up to 30%. Production yields were also increased by 20%, ensuring a higher income for farmers. 

Granoduro.net is an interactive web service that provides plot-specific and up-to-date information about weather, fertilisation, crop growth, weed control and disease risk.

Methods adopted include traditional crop rotation - a system based on the rotation of cereals, legumes (pea, broad bean, chickpea, lentil), oilseed (rapeseed, sunflower, soybean) or fruit and vegetables cultivations.

This approach allows the production of a high-quality durum wheat, whilst improving the fertility of the soil, optimising crop protection treatments and enhancing fertilisers’ effectiveness.

Barilla’s push to promote local production also included the introduction of new three-year durum wheat cultivation contracts, instead of annual ones, to ‘reward virtuous Italian farming.’

“Barilla signs “High Quality Durum Wheat Cultivation Contracts” that require the application of Regulations for the cultivation and storage of raw materials, shared with the farmers’ associations,”​ the report stated.

“The application of the Regulations allows the farmers to obtain a better quality wheat, greater production and lower environmental impact. Barilla also gives premiums to farmers, according to the quality level they achieve.”

Last year was a successful one for the 140-year old company. Its turnover, totalling €3.4 billion–an increase of 2% over 2015—was reflected in strong European growth.

Here, the Group achieved an overall 4% increase in sales volumes and a 3% in turnover driven mainly by the pasta and sauce categories.

‘From field to fork’

In Italy, where results were recorded in sauces and Voiello pasta, its “Better for you” ​segment (with whole grain, Gluten Free, Multi cereal, Mulino Verde and Wasa products), showed double digit growth thanks to the launch of new products.

In 2016, Barilla launched 17 new whole grain products with increased whole grain percentage, in the brioches, soft breads, pasta, biscuits and rusk categories.

The gluten free and Protein Plus ranges were also extended through the launch of 11 products that included bread, sauces, flour and pasta.

“From the nutritional point of view, Barilla is committed to constantly improve its offering through the reformulation of existing recipes and the launch of new products that are in line with the Mediterranean Model,” the report added.

“All this keeping the environmental and supply chain aspects into great consideration, i.e. reducing Barilla impact from field to fork and promoting models of sustainable agriculture.”

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