Source: Il Sole 24 Ore
The Reggio Calabria-based company is pecialized in citrus juices and preparations for beverages. It has chosen to be a partner of the large beverage groups with customized solutions that require continuous product innovation and have imposed the optimization of the production phases: a possible path with investments in machinery 4.0 and employee updating
From Algeria to Kenya, from Turkey to Pakistan, now the first steps towards the United States. The international vocation of Agrumaria Reggina , a Calabrian SME specialized in the basic ingredients for citrus drinks, is written in numbers – about 75% of the turnover achieved outside national borders – and in the strategies, with the revisiting of the commercial network started in the last five years. In parallel, the turnover grew, reaching around 20 million euros, and the number of employees became 86, also counting the external sales force. To take the direction abroad, two key elements: the central role of Research & Development and the strengthening of production systems.
Four business areas: from concentrates to aromas and essential oils
The recent development of the company – born in 1985 and now managed by its third generation – has gone in two main directions. On the one side, choices regarding governance and core business. On the other side, focus on innovating products and making the production process efficient and flexible. The former led to the creation of an advisory board – with external professionals alongside the representatives of the Chirico founding family – for industrial-economic assessments and to focus activities in four areas: juices , solutions for fruit drinks, natural extracts (essential oils and natural flavours) and derivatives of citrus fruits.
Tailor-mad Products and the push on Research & Development
From an operational point of view, Agrumaria has focused not on industrial semi-finished products but on products designed specifically for the customer’s requests – beverage brands or private label bottlers. The “customization” of these solutions to be proposed to customers have forced the Management to push on flexibility and innovation. «If until a couple of years ago we had 3-4 figures in Research & Development – explains Domenico Chirico, Head of Finance Control & Administration – today the laboratory has 10 permanent people who also increase to 15 during peak periods: the expansion of this area has had a decisive impact on sales growth “.
From improved production processes + 30% efficiency
Tailor-made Beverages and new markets: for these objectives, production capacity has been increased – it reached 37,500 tons per year of blends (juice and preparations) – and rationalized in its phases with investments (around million a year) to update production lines and equipment to Industry 4.0 and provide training for staff on the supply-production-logistics cycle. First of all the activities – some of which are financed through Fondimpresa, the inter-professional fund of Confindustria, Cgil, Cisl and Uil to which companies can allocate the compulsory contributions for training – focused on “technical” skills: control and planning systems, the supply of materials, the management of stocks. From the optimization of production processes, the company has achieved an estimated increase of 30% in efficiencies. Alongside these interventions on staff skills – for which Agrumaria was selected by Fondimpresa among the cases to be exploited to highlight the strategic consequences of investments in training and innovation – the continuous training programs also concern courses for tasting drinks and interdisciplinary contents to various areas such as teamwork, problem solving, foreign languages.