After launching Rana to the upper echelon of Italian pasta producers in just a few years, Gian Luca Rana understood that internationalization was the next logical step for growth. Rana transformed his company from a small operation with a few dozen employees to more than two thousand, ramping up production to more than 100,000 tons of fresh pasta annually, and now leads the market in 28 European countries.
But Gian Luca wasn’t done yet. He shifted his focus and attention to pursue his biggest dream: the conquest of the challenging, yet crucial American market.
Success in the United States requires a great deal of innovation, organization, cultural translation and above all, a significant amount of entrepreneurial risk. However, according to Gian Luca Rana Italian companies have several aces up their sleeves to meet these challenges.
"The ability medium-sized companies have to create and react to new business conditions is an asset that we sometimes overlook. We have deep roots in the community and the solidity of family, which is a huge competitive advantage and great foundation for international attractiveness. This alone should convince our entrepreneurs to at least try to tackle an incredibly rewarding market like the U.S."
2012 was a milestone year for the pasta maker. Gian Luca Rana designed, built and opened their first pasta plant in Chicago, bringing with him the most innovative technologies in the world for fresh pasta. Pastificio Rana finally makes its debut in America.
Nothing came by chance for Gian Luca Rana. For three years he traveled the United States so he could better understand the culture, logistics and special nuances of a dynamic and complex market much different then Europe. He personally oversaw the development of the fresh pasta plant, which was built in record time. Work began in mid-2011, and in just three months, PDO Basil Pesto was born. Four months later, the first tortellini saw the light of day. It only took Gian Luca Rana seven months to bring a new factory to life, employing 150 Americans (which has now grown to over 1,000).
"The U.S. stuffed pasta market had been flat for years. There were even some major chains thinking about taking the product off the shelves. We needed to break the rules, and fast. We focused on our “Italian-ness”, craftsmanship, modern packaging and authentic recipes. We switched from the standard plastic tub to a stand-up pouch, a very difficult process that we earned a patent for. At the same time, we created a new range of products specifically for the American palate. For example, they like soft fillings with crispy components, like cheese with bacon cubes. We designed machines capable of producing very soft fillings while incorporating textures of tasty bits," says Gian Luca Rana.
Since the start of production in the U.S., growth is soaring across all three channels: Retail, Club and Food Service. One of the key factors of success of Pastificio Rana in such a competitive market is its ability to engage the large-scale retail sector.
Just 6 years after Rana’s U.S. entry, the entire fresh pasta category in America grew 30 percent per year. Prior to that, sales were flat for almost two decades. These days, American chains in all 50 states are proud to fill their shelves with Rana fresh pasta.
May 2019 is a milestone that will remain unforgettable to the entire Rana family, as it was the month Rana reached 300 million in sales and became the market leader in the United States. More expansion is coming soon, a factory two and a half times bigger than the first is under construction and will employ another 1,000 workers.
"All of this has been possible thanks to a wonderful team that has followed me from the beginning, believing not only in my dream but above all in my own values: to create a company that enhances talent and allows people to realize themselves by building their future."
High-quality products and a strong spirit of adaptation are the pillars of an effective strategy in the United States. On their own however, they are not enough. To succeed in America, you must have the courage that comes from a deep passion for work, and the drive to always push yourself to your limits. Day after day, recipe after recipe, this is what we do.
This is Rana.