First for innovation: serving the first real espresso to astronauts, adopting the vacuum pack and blending to improve the flavour of the coffee. That’s why is now the market leader in Italy and around the world

Antonio Baravalle

Antonio Baravalle

This is the story of a family and a company that have been making coffee for more than 120 years, since 1895. «It was Lavazza that invented the art of blending coffee, more than a century ago. Lavazza was also the first in Italy to vacuum pack coffee. Furthermore, over 25 years ago it became one of the first companies in the world to introduce capsule systems for espresso. Innovation has always been one of our core values and it is still essential if you want to have market-leading products». These are the words of Antonio Baravalle, who has been the Ceo of Lavazza since 2011.

Acting on his beliefs, in the last two years he has doubled investments in innovation, which plays an «essential part in our growth strategy». Accordingly, after five years of research, in 2015 the company from Turin presented its first totally compostable espresso capsules, which are made in partnership with Novamont. This sensitivity to environmental matters was also behind Lavazza’s decision to present its first sustainability report in 2015. It showed that in 2014 alone a huge € 5.8 mn was spent on eco-friendly initiatives.

The report is a transparency tool that describes the values of Lavazza. It is a company that revolves around the concepts of quality, innovation and constant improvement and this is reflected all along the supply chain: from raw materials to relationships with manufacturers, sharing values with partners and making the end products, which must satisfy the very highest quality requirements.

Lavazza’s ambitions stretch beyond the terrestrial realm: on 3 May 2015 the Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti enjoyed the first genuine espresso to be made and drunk in orbit on board the International Space Station. Behind this historic achievement was ISSpresso, the first machine capable of serving up an authentic espresso even in zero gravity. Lavazza made it in partnership with Argotec, an Italian aerospace engineering company.

2015 was a big year for Lavazza. It celebrated its 120th anniversary and it was the official coffee of the Italian Pavilion at Expo 2015. As Baravalle explained, «Expo was the perfect place to showcase our ability to cater to the needs of consumers from all over the world with a wide range of innovative products». Lavazza is built on experience, quality and innovation, which have made it a leading player in the local and global markets. By staying true to these principles, Lavazza has become one of the most solid and esteemed companies on the Italian manufacturing scene. It has preserved its strong roots in the country and displays the Made in Italy label with pride. This family-run company is the ideal ambassador for Italian know-how in the world today.

The fourth generation of the family are now at the helm of the business and Baravalle claims that this gives it a competitive edge: «The decision-making process is much faster and simpler in a family company than in a multinational with countless shareholders». This has helped it to become the seventh biggest coffee producer in the world, with a presence in 90 countries and 17 bn cups of Lavazza sipped every year. «Lavazza», continued Baravalle, is ready to compete as a global player at a crucial time for the conformation of the entire sector, within which the company wants to continue to have a leading role, accompanying its organic growth with external growth».

The medium-term target is to take the turnover to € 2 bn. Baravalle is confident that this can be achieved, by «taking the proportion of the turnover generated by international markets from 50% to 70%». In an effort to reach this goal, in 2015 Lavazza finalized the acquisition of the French brand Carte Noire, while also bringing to a conclusion two equally significant projects: it bought Merrild (a long-established leading brand in Denmark, which is the ideal platform for growth in Northern Europe) from the Dutch group D.E. Master Blenders; and it opened a new subsidiary in Australia by buying out its long-term local distributor. The strategic importance of the latter market was underlined by the fact that Lavazza has signed a partnership deal with the Australian Open, thus completing a Grand Slam all of its own.

The agreement with the tennis tournament means that in 2016 the Turin-based company will be the first and only food and beverage brand in the world to be a partner of all four majors: Wimbledon, the French Open, the Us Open and the Australian Open. «These highly prestigious events take place in key markets for the company», stated Baravalle in conclusion. «Thanks to their global reach, they fit perfectly into the brand’s international expansion strategy, underlining the desire to offer the public the most authentic experience of quintessential Italian hospitality, which Lavazza emblemizes on a worldwide scale».