The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Sustainability Series: Barilla

Sustainability Series: Barilla


September 23, 2012

Starting out as a small pasta and bread shop in Parma in 1877, Barilla is now a leader in the pasta business worldwide with 43 production sites around the world and exports to more than 100 countries. Employing more than 14,000 people, Barilla offers 1000 products for every occasion. We talked to Giannella Alvarez, Americas Group President, about the important ways sustainable practices target both customers and the environment.

How does your business define sustainability?

Sustainability is a core value at Barilla and always has been: it’s our way of doing business since 1877. Simply put, sustainability at Barilla means providing quality products that contribute to the wellbeing of consumers and of our planet. We like to say sustainability is good for you and good for our planet.

How are you incorporating sustainable practices into your business?

Sustainability is a key driver that touches every area of our business “from field to fork.” To guide our efforts, Barilla has set three strategic priorities:

  • Building Knowledge: Contributing to solve the problems linked to food and nutrition, creating knowledge to guide the daily work of those who work in Barilla.
  • Building a Sustainable Company: Managing the company by continuously improving processes and products in a “Total Quality” manner, focusing on our consumers and planet's wellbeing.
  • Building Local Relations: Contributing to local development with all the best practices and resources we have built over time., and channeling those resources to support causes like food security and rebalancing the great paradox of hunger and obesity.

What are your short term and long term goals?

To meet the strategic priorities listed in answer 2, Barilla set operational goals – in the categories of nutrition, supply chain, biodiversity in the supply chain, environment, people, community, governance and sustainability, while producing best quality products. Some of these objectives include:

  • Reducing the ecological footprint throughout Barilla’s supply chain;
  • Implementing a globally integrated operational model, defining global processes and establishing the normative body to secure a sustainable business;
  • Developing and strengthening partnerships with key suppliers of raw materials and packaging to ensure the quality and safety of supplies and of food production while respecting the planet, animal and human rights.

Where do you think you’ll have the biggest impact?

Our goal is to make a significant impact on all areas of the value chain: from our suppliers to our consumers. Our efforts today are systemic and each area within our company is committed to delivering its goals in support of our vision statement “Good for you, Sustainable for the Planet.” We are particularly involved in two tasks:

  • For our consumers: We are committed to producing products with a better nutritional impact, educating and informing people about food and good nutritional behaviors.
  • For our planet: We want to minimize the environmental impact from of our products, operations and office facilities.

How do you measure your progress?

Barilla established the Sustainability Operating Group which sets the objectives, establishes projects and monitors progress and sustainability indicators. The Group has developed a Sustainability Management System to link the daily activities to the goals and to monitor all activities with specific key performance indicators. We report our progress against our objectives in the Barilla Corporate Sustainability Reports. We believe measuring progress is key to improve and lead our business each and every day.

How do retailers factor into your efforts?

All along the retail chain, Barilla encourages a model designed to minimize environmental impact and waste, reducing the Ecological Footprint and consistent with the Barilla Code of Ethics.
In 2011, Barilla began the Next Level of Retailers’ Collaboration Project. The project is aimed at expanding Barilla’s partnerships with our customers through key long-term collaboration projects including agricultural supply chain, environment and education.
In 2011, Barilla also became part of Consortium E-SAVE that aims to develop services and tools for collaboration between producers and distributors to improve energy efficiency and reduce environmental impact. The project is funded by the European Commission and will last 30 months beginning in January 2012.

Why are sustainable business practices important to the food industry?

Today, the business world is asking itself how it can better analyze changes in society and understand how it can efficiently contribute to the future of the planet and future generations. Out of a population of more than 7 billion people worldwide, roughly a billion are underfed or malnourished. About 36 million people die each year from a lack of food. Yet every year, nearly 30% of food is wasted which is very sad. Another billion people are overfed, and approximately 29 million die annually from obesity-related illnesses.

This is only one example of the paradoxes related to food and nutrition globally. This and other paradoxes have sparked in us the desire to help all of us manage the resources we have in order to feed our population while respecting our Planet. As a global food company, we have a responsibility to take part in creating sustainable food systems that can support individuals now and for future generations.     

Why are sustainable business practices important to the consumer?

At Barilla, we design every product to increase the wellbeing of our consumers, flourish the communities where they live and respect the resources the planet offers. Consumers are the cornerstones of our business and their expectations guide our daily work. Today, they are even more aware of their own needs, but also of the needs of the Planet and of future generations. We must not only meet these needs, but exceed them.

In upcoming issues, we will feature interviews with food companies that are making strides in their sustainability efforts. If you are interested in telling us more about what your company is doing to get involved please contact us