Organic food: a choice for life

This is a history that explains how an exemplary agricultural reality can be born from a man’s dream and ideals. Today the company successfully exports its products all over the world, holding fast to the principles of salubriousness and protection of the environment. In 1971 Gino Girolomoni, young and versatile mayor of the municipality of Isola del Piano (PU) began to promote some activities oriented at enhancing and supporting ancient country culture. These first experiences were at the roots of the birth, in 1977, of the ‘Alce Nero’ cooperative. Its trademark was made over about 25 years later, becoming Montebello®, whose graphic symbol represents the monastery where the cooperative has its seat. Girolomoni himself has always been the President of this agricultural reality. Ever since, he has always worked in order to promote both organic agriculture and fight against GMO (Genetically Modified Organism). The cooperative, that was one of the first in Europe to cultivate with the bio method, made pioneer decisions for that time, organizing, in 1978, the first Italian course of organic agriculture and building on the hill of Montebello a pasta factory completely organic. Following its founder’s decease, in 2012, the trademark Montebello® was replaced by the mark Girolomoni®.

5.000 tonns of pasta every year

At present Gino’s son, Giovanni Battista Girolomoni, manages the cooperative and coordinates the activity carried out by 30 affiliates and more than 80 agricultural companies that carry wheat, spelt, ancient cereals to the cooperative. The tons of raw materials brought every year are about 3.000, while 5.000 tons of pasta are produced. The historic product is organic brown pasta, of which the cooperative was the first producer in Italy, so that it anticipated the laws in force. On the other hand, during the last few years the company specialization concerns pasta with ‘ancient wheat’, particularly with dicoccum spelt, Senatore Cappelli, and Graziella Ra. With time, and following consumers’ requests, a wide series of products, among which there are purees, oils, jams, rice, and coffee coming from both affiliates of the cooperative and strictly organic external companies, was put together with the range of pasta. 90% of the proceeds of sales goes abroad and reaches a big number of countries: New Zealand, Germany, France, USA, Japan. In Italy the products with the trademark Girolomoni are sold, besides in the company farm holidays and the two near sale points of Urbino and Fossombrone (PU), only in shops specialized in organic food, delicatessens, fair trade points, restaurants, and solidarity based purchasing groups. Large-scale retail trade is excluded.

 

A Cultural Fact: interview to Giovanni Girolomoni

Continuing the way undertaken by you father was either a free choice or an almost obliged decision?

A free choice, that I made with belief and love for what my father had begun. As soon as I finished my university studies, I began working in our company. The roots of our cooperative are very deep and for me undertaking this activity did not represent an obligation, but a luck: I feel a privileged person.

Is your trademark essential for both acknowledgement and success of your products?

Absolutely: it was and is very important. Our trademark offers a direct link with both our company and its history. For us, organic food has always been something that goes beyond the mere agricultural use without chemical substances: it is a really cultural approach.

Which are the next aims of your Cooperative?

First of all, we want to continue to follow the way of renewable energies, implementing them and enlarging the plants we already have. On the other hand, from a commercial viewpoint we will try to improve the relations with our customers all over the world and arrive where we are not present and active yet, as in Great Britain, for instance. In addition, we aim at enlarging our associative base, guaranteeing to the associates a better and better service, that goes beyond the purchasing of wheat and bets on a global assistance. We are thinking about a new line of long pasta, too, that will replace the existing one in order to increase our production. We have made strong investments: in 2011 we realized a line for short pasta that allowed us to double our productive capacity. Today we can realize important progresses, even only with the investments we made in the past, and therefore we will concentrate on the commercial section. Finally, for the next three years we will be part of a regional project called ‘Consorzio Marche Biologiche’: alongside with 4 other cooperatives, we will try to enhance more and more the regional organic food.

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