Barilla Group

We help people live better lives.

Thursday 11 October 2012, by Francesca Piana

2 inspired

A. The main facts about the activities of the company.

Founded in 1877, Barilla ranks as one of today’s top Italian food groups. Employing more than 14,000 people and accounting for more than euro 3.9 billion net sales in 2011, it is a leader in the global pasta business, in pasta sauces business in continental Europe, in bakery products business in Italy and crispbread business in Scandinavia.

Barilla is the Italian Family Company that believes food is a joyful convivial experience, taste and a form of sharing and caring.

Managed by one family’s entrepreneurial experience for over 130 years, Barilla became popular worldwide due to its attention to the quality of its products, the result of significant investments in research, innovation and technology, as well as communication.

Barilla exports to more than 100 countries, under the brands Barilla, Mulino Bianco, Voiello, Pavesi, Wasa, Harry’s (France and Russia), Lieken Urkorn and Golden Toast (Germany), Academia Barilla, Misko (Greece), Filiz (Turkey), Yemina and Vesta (Mexico).

B. The Ethical challenges this company is addressing.

As a big food company, Barilla has often needs to choose between profits and social responsibility. Here are some typical ethical dilemmas which Barilla solved giving a priority to ethics rather than to business.

1. High quality vs. less costs
For food companies, offering good quality food accounts for one of the most important responsibilities. However, in order to cut costs, many companies still offer scarse quality food. Barilla never compromised. The quality of each Barilla product is the result of employing superior raw materials, avant-garde production processes, long-term relations with retailers and relationships of trust with people.
For instance, let’s consider the sustainable supply chain. Unlike the classical linear structure with a cascade sequence of supply chain operators, the Barilla model is of circular shape, so as to involve the various players with collaboration projects: from the production of raw materials to projects with customers and the relationship with people. This obviously helps Barilla enhance the quality of its products, but also increases the costs.

2. Being liars vs. honest to consumers
Consumer loyalty is critical to reach sustainable profits over time. To boost sales, many food companies use special additives to make their products more attractive, tasty or to make people consume more often. Although the quantities are strictly controlled, there are still some risks. Because most consumers have little knowledge about additives, and only search for delicious food, many companies make use of chemicals to increase customer loyalty, at the expense of the naturality and goodness of the product. Barilla assures its new products are all additive free.

Barilla uses two main methods to build and mantain consumer loyalty. First, it invests a lot in R&D and martketing research to innovate and create new products, designed to meet specific customers’ needs. Despite its growing success, the company keeps challenging itself. Every year, 50 new products are launched while existing products see their formulation modified to reach outstanding nutritional standards. Second, the food company shares its nutritional knowledge with the parents. Barilla promotes many “Barilla Kitchens”, where parents can learn how to cook from a varied healthy diet. These things, among others, usually make people familiar with the brand, trust the brand. Barilla uses ethical methods to make profits.

3. Environmentally friendly package vs. higher costs

Packaging wastes always harm the environment. Environmental friendly package materials are more expensive than common ones. Although many companies choose common ones and increase efficiency, Barilla insists on designing its packages as environmentally friendly. It has also developed an analysis of the entire life cycle of a packaging to verify its environmental impact and consider possible alternatives. A specific tool has been developed to design more sustainable packaging. The percentage of technically recyclable packaging rose from 85% in 2008 to 96% in 2011, of which 41% comes from recycled material.

C. What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it?

We will not repeat here all the “conventional” CSR reasons for which a company should be considered ethical. We instead try to develop a reasoning which better explains the true feelings we address to this company and the deep reasons for which it touched our heart.

Teach a better living to future generations

Barilla shows its strong commitment in growing future generations both directly, by offering parents programs and courses on how to grow their children in a healthy way and by teaching a healthy lifestyle to children, both indirectly, by delivering nutritionally exceptional foods. The outstanding quality of all its products provides families with a great sense of security which makes them loyal to the brand. Mothers know they can rely on Barilla’s support for the better growth of their children and feel safe in the difficult, demanding everyday life of a parent. While raising their kids in a more conscious way, adults can conduct healthier, happier and more satisfying lives. Barilla knows that growing children in the best way is the most rewarding thing for a parent.
Future society will benefit both in less costs (healthier liestyles will eventually reduce the likeliness of diseases) and a greater rate of happiness. In this sense, Barilla is showing a great sense of care for the community.

Spread positive values for the creation of a better society

Since its foundation, in 1877, Barilla has always stood out of the crowd by using marketing as an effective tool to deliver warm, positive values to society. Heart striking images and strong values form the base of their marketing mission and operations. Barilla’s advertising campaigns are well known all around Europe for the pleasantness of their settings and the warmness of their topics. Recurrent themes are the importance of home as a gathering reality where relationships grow stronger, the pleasure of sharing and exchanging love and friendship, the love for simplicity and the respect for the nature.
Barilla believes the spreading of such values has the potential for shaping a better society. A more enjoyable place to live, where people feel involved in the same positive causes and are committed to do their best not to damage it. In a word, a more united, shared, sympathetic, responsible, happy society.

“We help people live better.” (Barilla’s vision)
Isn’t it ethical to make people happier? Isn’t it society’s happiness a respectable final ethical goal?

D.The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

As we can see, Barilla proves to be an excellent food company in Italy in all respects. Next, it is developing its overseas markets, such as in America, Asia and Africa. Here are some suggestions for the further improvement of its ethical behaviour in its future development.

1. Barilla is accurately controlling the quality of its products under all subordinate
brands. The company is pursuing its enterprises principle in the most faithfull, thanks to its ability to accomplish its quality targets under any circumstance. It also would need a perfect plan to maintain the quality of its products (source and quality of raw materials being particularly important) in overseas markets as high as in domestic markets, for it is impossible to transport all products from Italy to local markets due to high transportation cost and local factories’ capacity.
Supply chain built in overseas markets including America and other places all require a lot of investment, together with elaborate operations and knowledge. Investigating the local target market raw material resources and accordingly setting products catalogue may be a valid option.

2. Taking its products abroad must be accompanied by the communication of its corporate culture and philosophy. In Barilla, concept comes first than the products and markets. As what has been done in Italy, Barilla has the potential to export its healthy food, healthy-living concept and further feeling for life and happiness worldwide. It has been teaching parents how to better raise children, achieving good results in Italy.
Let’s imagine a scene set in a poor country in Africa: children are sharing Barilla pasta on a kind of rude table, meanwhile the same is happening in Italy or America. What children feel when having this delicious food made by heart is—happiness. Doing charity work abroad, especially directing it to poor regions and countries, sharing food with the people and let them know about Barilla and know about better living, would significantly further promote Barilla’s principle and vision about making people live better. An inspiring company increases its prosperity by giving people hope and helping them live their life better.


Start a new discussion

2 Discussions / 3 Messages

  • Barilla Group 26 February 2013 at 18:38 , by Katie Jackson

    I am inspired by this project and this company as a whole, as I can relate to the objective and mission of the company, as the population of the world increases then so does the demand for food, and thus the supply. It is important that manufactures of food products create food that is nutritious, healthy and full of raw materials. It is the easier road in life to substitute quality for quantity and adding in additives and chemical compounds that mimic real food properties.

    I am inspired not only by the continued quality of the food, but also of the commitment that Barilla maintains to society as a whole, to teach families what is good food to eat, and how to prepare healthy and nutritious meals. I really like Barilla vision to "help people live better" the spreading values such as importance of home as a gathering reality where relationships grow stronger, of sharing and exchanging love and friendship, the love for simplicity and the respect for the nature really does have the potential for shaping a better society and as stated above a more enjoyable place to live, where people can feel involved in the same positive causes and are committed to do their best not to damage it.

    I think that changing the world for the better, starts at the fundamentals - the food we eat, the water we drink and the shelter/sleep. If we can make small changes from the bottom of the triangle, hopefully this can have a flow on effect to the top of the triangle, and we really can start to save the world.


  • Barilla Group 27 February 2013 at 15:27 , by Andrea Spadafora

    I am personally inspired by the Barilla Group since it’s considered one of the most successful top food company in Italy and in the world. Personally I am italian and I’ve always liked the products offered by this firm. After reading some information concerning them on this website, I got impressed by the devotion that this Multinational is having in numerous ethical issues. The firm is focusing on creating recyclabe packages which percentage reaches 96%. Barilla is highly responsible for the quality of their products in order to reach continuous excellence and ensure additive free food. Moreover the company places its customers on the priority position in the ranking of their stakeholders. Particularly I am impressed by the strong committment in growing future generations by offering parents programs and courses on how to grow their children in a healthy way and by teaching a healthy lifestyle by delivering nutritional food. The internal operations of Barilla can be considered of edge in the food market. Specifically how they manage their supply chain on a circular way getting all players involved and effective marketing tools to deliver the intended image.

    • Barilla Group 7 March 2013 at 12:08 , by RocioBenitez

      I can’t agree more with you. What they are doing is what other companies must do. Trying to make a better world with "little things" that will be very important acts in our future. If we make strong the idea of recycling, providing people without enough or no resources, growing in a healthy way, trying to "educate" parents because they are not perfect and they probably didn’t have after that a good education in this aspects, may we can help the world survive because we are killing it. In spite of his ethical unconditional contribution, they obtain lot of benefits. Companies must think about this and bear it in mind, because it’s helps to the environment and is not related of not obtaining earnings. Look for our future and for our future generations don’t have to be an option but a must.

Location: 43122 Parma (Italy)

Sector: Manufacturing

Official website:

Key figures:

more than 3.9 billion euros net sales (2011)
14,000 employees
13 brands
Products present in more than 100 countries
43 production sites (13 in Italy and 30 abroad)
2,500,000 tons of food products every year

Nbr. visits: 2977

Nbr. inspires: 2