Oscar Farinetti (Founder and President of Eataly)

Il successo di Eataly brilla oltreoceano

Oct 17, 2013 7259 ITA ENG

A few years ago, an electronic supplies company launched an extremely interesting advertisement campaign, whose claim was "optimism is the scent of life". The man behind the company who presented itself to the public with such a powerful statement was Oscar Farinetti, a serial entrepreneur that soon after launched Eataly.

When he thought to bring the italian excellence in food and wine around the world, people must have thought he was crazy. But he wanted to, and doing it while exalting diversity, peculiarities, traditions in a way that none before ever accomplished: by gathering together thousands of small producers. Micro-productions are at the foundation of the amazing quality and variety of the Italian food market, but also made it almost impossible to export it. At least until Farinetti decided he had to.

Today, Eataly is a great success story, in Italy and abroad. An example, rare unfortunately!, of how enthusiasm and perseverance, vision and love for Italy are still nowadays an incredible recipe for success.

Oscar Farinetti is a ball of fire, and the USA are close to his heart. In 2013 his creature, Eataly New York, celebrated his third anniversary making 85 million dollars of revenues and last year was placed third - just above the MOMA! - in the ranking of the best attractions of the big apple. Further this year a new store will open in Chicago, while in Italy many regions are covered, and exalted - because Eataly commercializes, alongside with national excellences, local ones.

Last monday Farinetti, joined by two giants of the Italian culture like Renzo Arbore and Alessandro Baricco, celebrated Columbus Day in New York. Eataly's 2014 claim will be "ci riesco", a clear reference to Obama's Yes we can, and a pun with the Italian words for courage, imagination, responsibility, innovation, energy, simplification, consciousness, honesty.

Oscar, you're one of the most innovative Italian entrepreneurs, who reached a great success abroad. Eataly is now a symbol of the Italian quality in the wine and food industry, demonstrating how great distribution and quality can get along well: a task that used to be thought as impossible. Many Italians have amazing products, but then they cannot manage how to bring it to the international market. What's the Eataly's founder would recommend them to enter the US market?

The only thing that I want to recommend is to roll up their shirt sleeves and work hard with inventiveness and honesty. They have to be proud of their land. The crisis that we are living could be a great opportunity to start anew. In the next decade the crisis will be ended and Italy could turn into the European leader. Now we export 31 billion euros in food and agricultural. Well done! But we have to double them in the next three years. We could export 180 billion and generate 2 million new jobs!

Let's talk about "Italian sounding": the problem of forgery. In the USA we can often find products that apparently come from Italy but are actually made elsewhere. It's a an economic and image loss for Italy that reach over 60 billion euros. What we should do to tackle this hard problem?

All of us need other people in order to be well and thrive. We need to learn to interact among us. We could make a distinctive brand that characterize our "Made in Italy" products. I have many ideas ... for example an apple with our flag colors (green, white and red) put on our best products. This would mean no to GMO (genetically modified organisms), no to pesticides, no to chemical fertilizer.

The United States Department of Agriculture has relaxed a decades-long ban on the importation of many cured-pork products from some northern Italian regions starting May 28, greatly increasing the number and variety of salumi in markets and restaurants there. Whom do we have to thank?

I think that the USA are slowly starting to open their market more and more to Italian typical products. We are just the 0,83% of the world population, but we are loved by the other 99,17% and this a big percentage of people who enjoys and loves Italy and the Italian food. Let's work!

New York Eataly is already considered an American reference for Italian gourmet food. It is located near the Flatiron Building, bought by an Italian firm. Late this fall, you will open a Eataly Chicago. Will you reach the West coast too?

Eataly Chicago will open in mid-November. We plan to open in Los Angeles (2015) and Philadelphia (2016), too. Eataly Philadelphia will be located in the Indipendence area, a tourist attraction for its symbolism: the Declaration of Independence was signed there.

Recently Eataly opened in Bari, Puglia. You have been criticized, even if you created jobs and employed young people, because of conservatives who don't understand that the world is changing and they have to appreciate who make strategic investments. Did you feel alone in this circumstance? Did you have the same problems in New York?

I didn't feel alone but I must say that they attacked me with violence. But now it's over. We'll employed 132 people and more. In New York there's a completely different way to work and employ.

In your previously entrepreneurial endeavor, you sent a vigorous message about the benefits of optimism. This is a blessed message that we definitely need and it's really "American". How can we bring it into "Italian"?

Younger people, Italian or not, has to be optimist and brave! A pure and beautiful courage based on the will to overcome their own fears, on fortitude, on determination but also on the ability to analize - fundamental on background, to persevere and - at the end of the list- a rare quality: to be doubtful. This one is necessary to choose right questions and - in case - change what is going bad. Recently I launched a book, written exactly to tell stories of brave wine producers that gained their goal: "Storie di coraggio" (Stories of courage) by Mondadori.

The message that I would like to give to young people is that learning how to be brave is simple. The better way is to look at stories of courage of common people, that are now special thanks to their braveness. As often happens, experience can be more useful than study. And in the case of braveness, it sure is so.

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