San Lorenzo

Serving la signora Maria in the kitchen

There is an unspoken rule to Italian market shopping: Seek out the stall with the longest queue and wait – locals know where to buy good products. The coziness of market shopping is all part of the experience. It means placing your trust in the quality of local produce and having a friendly chat with the lively marketer at the usual time and place. But is this concept outdated in this day and age? Massimo Vezza proves it is not. His company, San Lorenzo, specializes in distributing traditional Italian foods. To him, trust and quality matter, and they can indeed be conciliated with growing markets.

Dr. Ernesto Zedda, CEO of San Lorenzo

San Lorenzo sets itself apart from the average run-of-the-mill supplier, of which there are many. For now, it is still a kind of insider’s tip. “You will not find our products in supermarkets,” says CEO Dr. Ernesto Zedda. “They are special and cannot be purchased just anywhere.”

Since its foundation in the Ligurian village of Diano Arentino in 1984, San Lorenzo has been producing high-quality Ligurian olive oil and has expanded over the years to cover a wider range of traditional and specifically regional foods. It now offers about 400 products ranging from olive oil, vinegars, pastries, and organic jams to jarred fruits and vegetables, and fresh meats and cheeses.

These are provided by carefully selected local suppliers and all bear the San Lorenzo brand. This is where tradition comes in: Most of the high-quality products are seasonal and are therefore limited in quantity, such as Riviera dei Fiori olive oil, made from locally sourced olives.

Its strong focus on naturally grown products and traditional artisanship distinguishes San Lorenzo from other suppliers. “This year was not very positive in terms of growing conditions,“ says Dr. Zedda. “There was just very little rain, which affected our olive groves and thus our production.”

But the year in general was another hallmark due to the overall business strategy, as customers appreciate San Lorenzo’s selection criteria and understand the standard its produce is subject to. “Massimo Vezza, the Founder and President of the company, was very passionate about good Italian cuisine and intended to make this excellence well known, so he began producing an extra pure olive oil,” Dr. Zedda continues. “In order to meet our claim of high quality, there is no such thing as constant availability of the full product portfolio. Our customers know this very well.”

This exclusive approach has become the signature of San Lorenzo as a company and is held in high regard by employees and customers alike. San Lorenzo’s other major strength lies in its close customer ties and ensuing mutual appreciation. But as old habits die hard, change is challenging, even within this special niche, and economic growth requires a lot of effort.

Olive oil comes in varous styles and is a classic of the portfolio

Since the 2000s the company has been working to provide increasingly organic products, leading to an expansion of business and the even tual relocation to Pieve di Teco.

“Although we strive to expand our business, it is still all about intimacy and quality,” Dr. Zedda asserts. “We sell and serve directly to Italian families – you might say to la signora Maria and her husband.”

La signora Maria, the classic loving Italian mamma always seeking the best for her family, stands for homeliness and tradition. These values are embraced by San Lorenzo as well. Consequently, the company is now treading new paths by distributing online and entering foreign markets by shipping abroad – without forfeiting its authenticity or quality.

Customers even experience market-style intimacy, as they pay only after having received and tasted the products. “We are all ambitious and passionate,” explains Dr. Zedda. “But first, our customers must be happy. That is always the ultimate goal.”

As for the future, San Lorenzo is considering expanding its business, and the Scandinavian countries are of particular interest. What remains is a constant love for the Ligurian countryside and ongoing local projects – and so, la signora Maria is stepping out into the world.

San Lorenzo
Fraz. Muzio
18026 Pieve di Teco (IM)

Phone +39 0183 7161
Fax +39 0183 290074

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European Food

Food Special 2/2017

In this issue: Brouwerij Anders! NV – Pushing the boundaries of Belgian craft beer / Mozart Distillerie Gmbh – Your chocolate moment / Gloria Maris Groupe – Breeding healthy and high-quality fish / Caseificio Longo Srl – The artisan cheese company / Fromagerie Biologique de Vielsalm – Pure nature, pure taste

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