Gian Luca Rana takes the Pastificio to the United States

Until ten years ago in the United States, refrigerated pasta was relegated to a hidden corner of the refrigerated displays in supermarket chains. Today, however, we are witnessing an out-and-out “pasta revolution” in the fresh goods section, along with gnocchi and ready-made dishes that are becoming an increasingly customary part of American eating habits.

A key role in this change was played by Gian Luca Rana, who in 2012 decided to enter the overseas markets and revitalize a sector that was largely on the wane. But this was no mere gamble; it was a long-term strategic project that brought about substantial growth for Gruppo Rana, in terms of both size and profitability.

From Verona to Chicago

The first step was to move to the USA: Gian Luca Rana spent three years actually traveling around the various American States to see for himself the customs, logics and dynamics of a complex and diversified market such as America’s. Thanks to this complete immersion he was able to grasp that it was necessary devise products with different characteristics to those sold in Italy: in terms of recipe, size, use and ability to convey the different textures in each filling.

Gian Luca Rana, the CEO of Gruppo Rana, personally oversaw the planning and launch of the American plant in Chicago, where production began with their D.O.P. (Protected Designation of Origin) Genoan basil pesto, swiftly followed by other sauces, tortellini and ready-made dishes. Just five years after arriving in America, a second plant was built to meet the growing demand from American consumers.

The chapters of an Italian-American tale

Besides their involvement on the production side, Gian Luca Rana and his team also worked to conclude agreements with large retail chains, even those that were on the verge of discontinuing fresh pasta and that instead are now proud of the success of Pastificio Rana’s products and of the newly revived category, with the result that a new and unexpected interest in the refrigerated display sections has now emerged.

An important part in this success also lies in the innovative packaging: it was decided to discontinue the traditional plastic tub confection and concentrate on a new format, an instantly recognizable and distinctive stand-up pouch.

The results arrived with astonishing speed: in the period from the opening in 2012 up to May of 2019, American turnover reached 300 million Euros (nearly 330 million US dollars), the number of staff employed in the USA rose from 150 to around 1000, and the company has positioned itself as leader in the overseas market. Gian Luca’s pride and joy is the second plant, also in Chicago, that is two and a half times larger than the first.

Vision, determination, innovation, quality and a good dose of courage are the basis of this success. Because, as Gian Luca Rana notes with regard to their by-now extensive experience in the USA: “our passion for our work enables us to overcome any difficulty and to transform it into an opportunity for growth”.