By the Editorial staff
We recently met with Federico Luddi, who has been HR Director at Mutti for about two years. Mutti is a leading company in Europe in the tomato sauce market and is increasingly making a name for itself on the national media scene. The company employs about 365 permanent employees and about a thousand “seasonal” ones during the tomato harvesting period (which lasts around 70 days). There are three plants: two in the Parma area and one in the Salerno area.
What is the secret of your company’s success?
“Enthusiasm and passion. These two innate characteristics that cannot be learned in a classroom define our way of doing things,” says Federico Luddi. “It has been like this for 120 years, since Mutti was a farm, and passion and enthusiasm were the motivations for doing this very hard work. We want to keep these motivations alive and ensure that they continue to characterise the company, which is in some ways very different today. That is why we devote so much time to newcomers by organising a tailor-made onboarding process, whereby they get to know some of their colleagues who will be important for their careers in the company. This activity allows the new recruits to mitigate the classic disorientation experienced during the first few days at a new job, but above all to understand from the beginning that Mutti is a special place.
Other inspiring words during the recruitment process: what do you look for in candidates?
We are looking for great people who are able to fit into our workplace. Working at Mutti is challenging, there is a lot to build: every day an extra brick is laid and there are many new ideas and projects to manage. At this point you will ask yourself, how is it possible to do all this? You need to develop certain qualities, in particular resilience, motivation and intelligence. You need to be proactive and, at the same time, understand where you want to go and what you want to achieve, and take risks. We are looking for people who are ready for evolution, not revolution. Ours is a kind, polite, sober, operational, determined and energetic company: it never stops. As you can see, we don’t just look at the CV here, but at the person and their social intelligence. So, to answer your question in brief… Mutti is not for everyone!
In addition to investing in people, another strong point for increasing a company’s positioning is innovation and research, both product and process innovation. To innovate, in fact, it is necessary to integrate many specific skills and abilities – which ones and how?
Innovation at Mutti is more a question of attitude than of skills. Over the course of 120 years, Mutti has been able to bring innovation to old practices and has introduced quality to a market characterised by quantity, changing the paradigms of a whole sector over the years. There have been many examples of this since 1899 and they are the story of a different approach. In 1951, Mutti launched the famous tomato concentrate: the packaging was an innovative aluminium tube, which had until then been reserved for toothpaste. Then in 1971, the company brought tomato pulp cut into very fine pieces onto the market… and so on, year after year, until 2020, when Mutti presented the Sul Campo passata: the first puree produced directly on the harvesting grounds thanks to the InstaFactory machine. This latest innovation consists of a mobile factory positioned directly on the harvesting grounds, thanks to which the tomato is processed directly at the field, without having to be transported to the factory. Technological competence can be bought, and the company’s culture of innovation has always been there and must be constantly nurtured.
Do you do all this on your own?
No, we have always wanted to be “contaminated” and that’s why we create networks. For example, we collaborate with the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Piacenza and with the Laboratory of Isotope Mass Spectrometry of Verbania to use a mass spectrometer to detect the specific isotopes in the soil and determine the origins of our raw materials, but also with Le Village of Crédit Agricole, a start-up incubator, which is also in Parma, where new ideas and innovations are developed and shared. These are just a few examples of the virtuous and intense collaboration that allows Mutti to grow every day and be a point of reference for the whole tomato sector, the fruit that is a symbol of “Made in Italy” products around the world.