Record-breaking frozen potatoes. Pizzoli invests 100 million for a giant plant

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It is a 100 million euro investment that the Bolognese Pizzoli group inaugurates in San Pietro in Casale, in the northern plain, towards Ferrara: a high-tech and automated plant of 40 thousand covered m2, the largest in all of Southern Europe, with which the leading Italian frozen potato brand is preparing to triple its production volumes and carve out a co-protagonist role in Europe alongside the major global players competing for the market, from the Dutch giants Aviko and Farm Frites International to the Belgian Agristo, from the American holding Lamb Weston to the Canadian Mccain.

«We are the first producers in Italy of frozen potatoes (with 23% of the market in value, ed.) and first in terms of awareness of our Patasnella brand, but we are still small compared to our competitors, all multinationals from Northern Europe or North America, and we have a laughable share of exports, around 2%. With this investment we aim to bring foreign turnover to 15% in three years, developing throughout the Mediterranean basin and also overseas, and driving the entire Italian potato supply chain together with us”, says Nicola Pizzoli, third generation at the helm of the company founded in Budrio in 1926. Which today in San Pietro in Casale officially cuts the ribbon on its third industrial site, after Budrio and Baricella (also in the Bolognese area, specialized respectively in frozen and fresh potatoes) which has actually been operational since last July, with a production capacity of approximately 100 thousand tons per year and processing 24 hours a day, six and a half days a week.

The plant stands on the ashes of the former Sfir sugar factory, taken over eight years ago by Pizzoli and where the first investment step was started in 2017: a logistics platform with 9 thousand pallet spaces serving, at the time, the historic headquarters of Budrio, about twenty kilometers away. Now, after two years of construction sites and the first months of running-in, the central frozen potato processing plant has been added, a 75 million euro outlay supported also thanks to a development contract from Mimit (formerly Mise) and a loan from Intesa Sanpaolo of 45 million euros.

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«We are preparing to cross the milestone of 200 million euros in turnover this year – announces the CEO – after the +25% achieved in 2023 (to 159 million in revenues, ed.). We are very optimistic, the demand for frozen potatoes is strong both in retail, which absorbs around 65% of our volumes, and in eating out. Once fully operational, we will be able to absorb 350 thousand tons of raw material from farms and our goal is to increase the share of Italian potatoes to at least 80%. Today we source from 12 regions and we estimate that annual potato production will increase by 15 percent”. The investment has already created 60 new jobs in San Pietro in Casale, bringing Pizzoli’s workforce to 308 people. «And here in the next few years – concludes Pizzoli – we will also welcome the fresh potato packaging part which today is concentrated in Baricella, with a notable development both in qualitative and quantitative terms».

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