Interview with Lavazza: Sharing Italy’s Legacy by Bridging Cultures through Coffee

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Economic development expert Richie Santosdiaz, in conjunction with Arabian Gazette, speaks to Lavazza about their business, in particular with the growth of the brand globally and their expansion and aspirations in the Middle East, particularly in the Arabian Gulf.

Richie and Arabian Gazette interviews Riccardo Codognola, Lavazza Western Europe, Middle East and Africa Head of Marketing, where the company recently participated at Gulfood 2019 in Dubai. Gulfood is the world’s largest annual trade show in the food industry and Lavazza, as well as the nearly 100,000 visitors.

Richie and Riccardo talk business – read the interview here:

AG: Please brief us on the evolution of Lavazza as a brand and product.

Riccardo: Lavazza is an authentically Italian brand, owned by the Lavazza family since 1895 in Turin, Italy, where the Headquarters remain today in the newly developed Nuvola building. Lavazza is Italy’s favorite coffee and the brand’s heritage and passion have made it a market leader in Italy for decades. Lavazza has been mastering the art and science of coffee for four generations and continues to explore, discover and reinvent to meet the needs of today’s consumers. We’re proud to bring consumers a true Italian coffee experience, both in and out of the home.

AG: What are the latest trends in consumer behaviour when it comes to coffee consumption?

Riccardo: Coffee consumption behavior changed a lot in recent years. In the last twenty years, coffee consumption has continuously increased, even though the economy was sometimes struggling. The overarching trend is, however, the growing preference for more-premium and high-end products, and the culture of “espresso” is developing and spreading globally.

What we do observe is that consumers are becoming more and more conscious. One of the trends in coffee is the need to know more, and to build a culture around the quality of the coffee people drink, something Lavazza has been doing for over 120 years, with the quality of our coffee as our main value.

AG: Is GCC coffee consumer preferences different from that of global consumers?

Riccardo: GCC is unique, diverse and renowned for its fast-paced development and innovation. It is the upcoming pioneer of many business industries. It also became the international ideal spot for global key events and exhibitions. Many of the coffee segments are on a growing trend in GCC, which can only mean it is our mission to bring together unique tastes and the most refined flavors to ensure that only the best end-product reaches the coffee cup. With a well-established network of hospitality/tourism facilities and a solid plan of new openings, despite being moderately affected by the recession in the Middle East, GCC is a thriving market for the Horeca sector as well, where Lavazza is securing new activations every year, growing and expanding in cafés, restaurants, and hotels. The trends of premiumization and attention to sustainability which are growing in the market mirror the global trends, something Lavazza is taking into account with its offering and launches for 2019.

In UAE, awareness around coffee is constantly increasing, registering growth in association with premiumization, and Lavazza enjoys a strong brand reputation, with a 70% of awareness among UAE consumers, and is perceived as a contemporary and social brand.

AG: Can you share Lavazza’s strategy for the changing customer preferences, with the region undergoing an economic, social and cultural transformation?

Riccardo: UAE is, in particular, a market with high volume potential and a strategic one for Lavazza. With its dynamic lifestyle and economy, it presents many opportunities and challenges, but we are proud to say that our brand recognition has greatly increased over the past few years and we are eager to increasingly meet our customers’ expectations in the Gulf.

Lavazza is the fastest growing brand in the market in the category, with a growth rate of +23.1% VS market’s +5.6% in 2018, and market leader in retail with its R&G range, with a market share of 14.2%. We plan to consolidate this position and further pursue premium product penetration in both the retail and Horeca sectors.

AG: What are Lavazza’s plans for growth in the GCC region?

Riccardo: Our passion and focus on coffee alone, allows us to innovate and respond to consumer trends. We are continually evolving our product portfolio to stay ahead of café culture trends as well as introducing retail blends that bring an element of café experience into homes. In the Horeca sector, this year’s focus is the launch of ¡Tierra! Colombia, presented at Gulfood 2019 with the objective of increasing penetration in premium outlets with the entire ¡Tierra! Range. In retail, we will focus on increasing our instant coffee offering’s penetration with Prontissimo!, the high quality Lavazza instant coffee available in two different offerings, Classico and Intenso, and strengthen our presence in the roast & ground sector by focusing on our power brands (Qualità Oro, Qualità Rossa and Espresso) and boost NCC, Lavazza’s capsules compatibles with Nespresso Machines

AG: Can you tell us more on innovative marketing and branding initiatives like the book launch to involve top chefs, Nespresso compatibles, etc? What more will we see in the near future?

Riccardo: Lavazza has been synonymous with global haute cuisine for more than a decade, collaborating with some of the world’s most highly regarded chefs and organisations including Ferran Adriá and Massimo Bottura; World’s 50 Best Restaurants and the Slow Food Movement – with which Lavazza has over a 20-year long partnership.

Lavazza’s ongoing commitment to excellence and its vocation for experimentation in the world of coffee have always found a perfect match in top gastronomy. The visionary approaches of these chefs and associations have resulted in interpretations co-created with Lavazza where the authentic quality Italian coffee experiences Lavazza is known for our protagonists. These include revolutionary coffee design recipes such as the èspesso (the first solid coffee created by Ferran Adrià) and Come to Italy with Me (by Massimo Bottura – a salty coffee reinterpretation of the Sicilian “granita”).

In the light of this years-long effort, the inception of “COFFEE ABSOLUTE GASTRONOMY”, a 176 pages book featuring the celebration of coffee as the key ingredient that inspired 40 of the world’s cutting-edge chefs and 1 sommelier to create special and unusual recipes and launched in February in Dubai, fits just perfectly.

Following the success of global chef partnerships, Lavazza embarked on a programme to work more closely with the local gastronomy scenes, and we are always looking for exceptional local talents to cooperate and experiment with.

The creation of NCC (Nespresso Compatible Capsules) followed the same obsession with quality that permeates the company and drove the top gastronomy programs and initiatives forward.

Rooted in the highest quality standards of Lavazza, consumers will find the finest coffee the company is renowned and loved for inside the capsules.

AG: Anything more that you would like to share with us on coffee, Lavazza, etc?

Riccardo: Lavazza is committed to providing authentic Italian coffee experiences worldwide, and the Gulf is no different. Lavazza’s more than 120-year heritage and expertise bring an unrivaled “know how” within the coffee industry.

With the brand’s focus on the UAE region, we are able to share Italy’s excellence legacy and bridge cultures through knowledge exchange opportunities. Italy in GCC, and in the world, means great cuisine and outstanding style and Lavazza, in its history, has strived to and continues to embody these values. Today, we are proud to bring these values to life in the Gulf by catering to the GCC region’s consumer needs with the finest Italian coffee in all its forms.

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