Gian Luca Rana

Gian Luca Rana

CEO, Pastificio Rana

Gian Luca Rana: innovation and foreign markets

Innovation, geographical expansion and food service are the three pillars of the growth strategy Gian Luca Rana has evolved since he became Managing Director of Pastificio Rana in 1989. When he first entered the family business in 1986, at the age of 21, the Pastificio was still small, with only 35 employees, a range of just 7 products, and a turnover of 30 billion Italian Lire (or about 20 million US dollars).

After learning the ropes in the procurement section, Gian Luca moved first to the Production department, where he was able to observe the product processing at first hand, and then to the Industrial Development division. By working in three different departments in as many years, Gian Luca obtained a 360-degree view of the company’s production chain. This comprehensive perspective led him to choose innovation as the philosophy on which the Pastificio’s future would be built when he became Managing Director in 1989. Accordingly, his first important decision in his role as Director was to set up the Research & Development Department that, over the years, would become one of the company’s main assets.

Gian Luca understood that innovation must be accompanied by careful attention to product quality, starting with the selection of raw materials and of suppliers, building on the methods first adopted by his father Giovanni.

Gian Luca Rana e il padre Giovanni Rana

Speaking of innovation, a central role is played by the Rana Restaurants, of which there are now 22, each in a different Italian city, plus one more in Berlin. The Rana Restaurants – which Gian Luca vigorously backed as a way of combining the world of refrigerated pasta with that of food service – serve as an enormous laboratory in which new products and recipes can be tried out, while obtaining immediate feedback from customers.

After expanding the company’s technological horizons, Gian Luca decided to do the same for its geographical distribution. Thus, in the 1990s, a process of internationalization began that would result in Pastificio Rana becoming a market leader first in Europe, and then, from about 2010, in the United States. A journey that began in the company’s birthplace in San Giovanni Lupatoto, and that so far has seen Pastificio Rana reach Chicago, the city chosen for the establishment of the two production plants now located abroad.

Gian Luca has remained true to his roots and has held various positions in numerous institutions in the Veronese area, including as a member of the Board of Directors of the Banco Popolare di Verona. He was also President of the local section of Confindustria – the youngest to have held this position – and since 2010 he has been Chairman of the Athesis publishing group.

In 2019, Gian Luca launched the Festival del Futuro, an event aimed at analyzing and sharing upcoming trends and their impacts, not just in the food sector, but in the global economy and society as a whole. Gian Luca Rana has also received awards for his entrepreneurial spirit, including the International Awareness Award, sponsored by the Fordham University in New York, for his achievements in the United States.