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The centuries-old relationship between Mutti and Parma (and more)

06 Jul 2022

By the editorial team

Patience, perseverance, respect for time. These are the virtues shared by those who work with the rhythms of nature. That’s only one side of the coin. On the other side is the love of the land, the satisfaction of harvesting what you sow.

Mutti has been experiencing the cycles of the earth for generations. The company’s relationship with the land and the local inhabitants is visceral. The roots of action and presence in the city of Parma – and in particular Montechiarugolo, where the main factory is located – have been intertwined since 1889, when Marcellino and Callisto Mutti founded Fratelli Mutti. Today, over 120 years later the name of the town remains a part of the company's logo.

‘Mutti and Parma continue to influence each other in ways that have shaped the company's history and determined our way of doing business,' comments Michele Laterza, Mutti's Head of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability. 'Clearly, thanks to the work we do, we have a strong environmental vocation, but we also pay attention to the social fabric we are a part of.

Mutti’s relationship with the conferees
The company’s strong attachment to the area expresses itself most strongly in its relationship with the approximately 800 agricultural suppliers that make up the entire supply chain of the 100% Italian tomato: ‘We have established a long-standing relationship with them,' says Michele Laterza. 'We know their history, their names and surnames, and together we build what we see as a supply chain project.’

Thanks to this consistent relationship, new projects have arisen to support their work. 'We have created a digital platform, Pomodoro.net, and the related app, Pomodoro.snap, that we use to support farmers in making choices as they are growing tomatoes, so they reach the exacting standards required by our company in an increasingly efficient and sustainable way'. The relationship is also based on physical proximity: 'Our factories are, on average, an hour from the supply areas. This allows us to reduce the storage time for the tomatoes and preserve their organoleptic characteristics'.

From small to large: protecting biodiversity
The spirit of Mutti is characterised by a focus on the surrounding areas. There is currently a project underway to naturalise the various plots of land around the Montechiarugolo plant. 'This journey will continue for a very long time and will take whatever turns nature itself wants.’

The objective is to protect and enhance biodiversity: the trees that will be planted are typical of the ecosystem, so the land is not forced towards initiatives that are not natural and could be rejected over time. 'We are also going to facilitate the local fauna; we are creating a house for bunting and swallows. In October we are going to place natural shrubs around this house in order to promote the repopulation of local fauna.'

Beyond the confines of the company
This planting project also continues outside of Mutti's properties. On the occasion of World Nature Day 2021, Mutti, in cooperation with the Ente Parchi del Ducato, started the 'Bosco Diffuso' project, a constantly evolving project that involves the renaturalisation and reforestation of rural and urban areas in several municipalities in the Parma area.

The group took charge of all of the planting, watering and rooting of the new trees for three years. The wellbeing of the land and its inhabitants is also improved by street cleaning activities: 'In order to improve the cleanliness of some areas, but above all to raise awareness and increase our fundamental respect for the environment that surrounds us, in 2021 we carried out a voluntary clean-up operation – already rescheduled for 17 and 18 June 2022 – which saw over 30 kilometres of ditches adjacent to some roads near our headquarters get cleaned up. Thanks to this initiative, over 1,000 kg of general waste were collected in 2021, the same amount an average Italian citizen produces in two years,' says Michele. This initiative was completed with a corporate volunteering activity organised with Legambiente Emilia-Romagna. Over 50 Mutti employees volunteered, together with Managing Director Francesco Mutti and the mayor of Montechiarugolo, Daniele Friggeri, to dedicate a good part of their working day to cleaning the areas adjacent to the two Montechiarugolo plants (headquarters and warehouse) and two neighbouring areas that are unfortunately subject to frequent waste dumping.

Our motto is to take care of what is close to us in order to go far. Mutti's relationship with Parma is very strong and it is our intention to have the same commitment to the other communities we have joined since

Our alliance with the WWF
For the past twelve years, Mutti has cultivated an intensive collaboration with WWF Italy, with the sole objective of protecting the environment. Various projects have been carried out to mitigate the water and carbon footprint of the mill, but that is not all: 'The first initiative was carried out with the growers, who put in place a series of measures regarding their crops,' Laterza recounts. In the same period, a carbon footprint analysis was carried out with WWF in Mutti's factories to reduce CO2 emissions, which led to the introduction of solar panels, more of which are constantly being added.

A focus on social issues
'As mentioned above, the nature of our work links us to the environment. In addition, we support the communities we are a part of, and primarily those who find themselves in difficult circumstances and need an opportunity to help them get out of it.’ Since 2021, the company has launched, together with Associazione Next and UNHCR, a free training programme followed by the recruitment of workers who barriers to being employed. These are hired as seasonal workers within the Mutti factories during the tomato processing season. In 2021, for example, the programme involved refugees and asylum seekers, with the future aim of broadening the categories of workers involved and being able to facilitate their integration not only in the company's factories, but also in other areas. ‘We have for many years been donating our products to the Banco Alimentare and the Emporio Solidale di Parma,' continues Michele. 'The donations are destined for locals in need, but we have also supported the people in Ukraine, thanks to the help of the Francesca Rava Foundation, which has supported us in sending our products to victims of war.'

Freely: life skills training
The post-pandemic 'new normal' has led many people to reflect on and rethink the meaning and values of their everyday lives, creating a real moment of transition. To support people during this particular time, Mutti has chosen to make optional training based on the ten life skills identified by the World Health Organisation available to all of its employees. It is a liberal training course, open to all employees with a view to inclusion, growth and diffusion. It is an innovative in-company course that started in May and will last until January 2021 and includes a total of 40 hours of training. The topics are Skills for Life, such as self-knowledge, empathy and effective communication, which can support people beyond the professional sphere, especially at this point in history.

Mutti in the South
'Our motto is to take care of what is close to us in order to go far. Mutti's relationship with Parma is very strong and it is our intention to have the same commitment in the communities we joined later. In particular in Oliveto Citra, in the province of Salerno, where our factory processes typical southern Italian specialities. There are almost 50 employees working here, plus 300 seasonal workers in the tomato processing season. As in Parma, in Oliveto Citra we have also built up an excellent relationship with the various stakeholders in the area, starting with the local administration and schools that we have an ongoing dialogue with. We work together to build initiatives for the community. One example is the recent project for which some of our colleagues visited a high school in Oliveto Citra to give students advice on how to build a CV and prepare for a job interview.’

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