Bertocchi Prevails with Tradition, Innovation and Quality

Nov 3, 2021

Like so many long term Fine Food exhibitors, Bertocchi Smallgoods has experienced a difficult journey during Covid, so we spoke to them to find out more about how the business prevailed.

Bertocchi Smallgoods is Australia’s largest 100% Australian owned & operated smallgoods producer and celebrates 50 years in business in 2022. This family company has survived and thrived through decades of economic peaks and recessions, but how has it come through the Covid pandemic?

Bertocchi’s Marketing and Merchandise Manager, Tony Rapone, said three generations of family heritage and strong foundations of tradition and authenticity provided the fortitude required to keep going.

“The past two years have been tough with the impact of hospitality closures and seeing our incredible wholesale customers really suffer,” said Tony. “The number of insolvencies in the restaurant trade was heartbreaking,” he said.

However, the impact of revenue loss from hospitality was compounded by the devastating effect of reduced production capacity due to Covid workplace restrictions. The business had invested heavily in a state-of-the-art processing facility in Melton and an upgrade to the Thomastown plant which was completed in 2019. Within months, the world had been plunged into lockdown.

A vastly reduced production capacity was coupled with a major investment in ensuring the health and safety of employees. The business installed thermal imaging cameras, where all manufacturing employees were scanned prior to commencing work. Split and staggered shifts ensured social distancing was adhered to, increased lunch/tea break rooms were introduced to ensure social distancing and further PPE clothing was introduced. Additional thorough cleaning activities also ensured all surfaces and equipment within the premises was regularly cleaned and alcohol sanitised to DHHS and Food Standards Australia requirements.

“We are a family at Bertocchi so it was essential we look after the safety and wellbeing of our staff,” said Tony. “The business implemented these measures quickly and ensured we always kept up to date with a situation that changes so rapidly.”

However, the retail demand for Bertocchi products boomed during Covid as the team maintained their product innovation and launches. With Australians cooking from home, there was increased focus on food quality and consumers seeking superior taste profiles.  The company is starting to plan its Fine Food exhibition stand and there’s no shortage of innovative new products from which to choose.

“Because Bertocchi uses traditional methods to create smallgoods, our products have a definite quality advantage,” said Tony. “During lockdowns, consumers were experimenting with various brands and found they didn’t want to compromise. If you’re going to make your bacon and egg panini at home – you might as well have the best,” he said.

The company’s long-term relationship with its retail partners have been crucial in bringing new products to market.

“We work very closely with our retail partners to develop products that delight their target consumers. Together we develop ideas, conduct focus groups and trials and bring new products to the market which is always exciting,” said Tony.

One of the more successful products during this period has been our Soppressa Salami ranges. “Customers just love our Soppressa’s and there has been a lot of growth with our Prosciuttos too,” said Tony.

If not for the manufacturing capacity limits imposed by restrictions, Bertocchi could have successfully pivoted in this challenging time and adjusted production to focus on the B2C market. “We are very much looking forward to being able to manufacture at full capacity and meet the new increased demand from Australians for Bertocchi products,” said Tony.

Fine Food 2022 will also allow Bertocchi to welcome buyers from the restaurant and hospitality industry and get together again to support each other. “It is also going to be fantastic to get back to supporting our friends in hospitality and seeing these businesses thrive again,” he said.

A large part of Bertocchi’s marketing program for 2022 is the Fine Food Show and the company’s impressive stand will be back and busy as ever next year. The company plans to connect with major partners and new customers at Fine Food to present ranges of new value-added products such as cheeses, dips, vegan-friendly jerky and antipasto type products to support the growing trend of entertainers and charcuterie lovers.

“We are really looking forward to getting back and talking to everyone again,” said Tony. “The Fine Food show certainly has the largest Australian audience and this is why we don’t invest in any other shows. It’s the biggest event we invest in and ensures we get to see all our important customers and buyers,” he said.

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