A real raid! During the first confinement, last spring, the pasta shelves were attacked. “We had to organize ourselves to double production. It was madness”, recalls Jean-Philippe Lefrançois, general manager of Alpina Savoie, whose Chambéry factory, visited by Capitalthen turned 7 days a week. The French number 4 pasta, with 2.5% market share, behind the Spanish Ebro (31% with Panzani), the Italian Barilla (24%) and the French Pastacorp (12% with Lustucru Rivoire & Carret), thus ended 2020 with a turnover up 10% to 51 million euros, even if it suffered from the collapse of the catering market.
The story of Alpina Savoie is that of a nice move upmarket. Founded in 1892 – Savoy, which had many Italian immigrants, had already adopted pasta – the company remained in the hands of the founding family for a long time. In 2008, a sharp rise in durum wheat prices and a great dependence on private labels, an unprofitable activity, imposed a backup plan. Taken over by the Breton Galapagos, specialist in biscuits, since joined in the capital by the BPI and the CIC, Alpina has refocused, by relaunching a local specialty, crozet, a small square dough (15% of sales today), and by developing a hexagonal industry for its entire range, including couscous semolina.
The Savoyard gets its supplies from around sixty producers of durum wheat that is organic or guaranteed to be free of pesticide residues, guaranteeing them minimum prices. Its products cost up to 3.50 euros per kilo, more than double the average price, but their taste quality and their green side have enabled them to establish themselves in mass distribution. “We sell 1.5 million packets of pasta. Our positioning in the spirit of the times should allow us, in the long term, to double this score”, hopes Jean-Philippe Lefrançois.
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