Food scarcity? It’s just myth. In fact, there is too much food. To get out of the crisis, Italy has to rely on the winds of change. Entrepreneur Oscar Farinetti says he’s looking forward to Expo Milano 2015 and gives a preview of what to expect at Eataly’s space at the Universal Exposition in Milan.
In 2050 there will be 9 billion of us. How can we all be fed?
The world currently produces enough for 2 billion people. Currently there are 7 billion of us and there are one billion people suffering from hunger. Yet we throw away about half of the food produced. The great challenge of the future is not so much to increase its production but to combat waste. Then there are other big problems, a lack of democracy, wars, a lack of civic responsibility. We could talk for hours, but I don’t want to take too long.
What will be on display in Eataly’s spaces at Expo Milano 2015? What will we eat and what surprises do you have in store for visitors?
The goal of Eataly is to celebrate the true primacy of Italian cuisine and its biodiversity. It is a superior result of the blend of our winds, which create a unique microclimate in the world. The winds coming of the sea, that meet with those of our mountains and our hills, giving rise to the greatest variety of plant and animal species that exist on the planet and consequently, the largest variety of agricultural food and wine. For this Pavilion, Eataly calls us with: "The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind." Twenty restaurants on site, one for each Italian region, each one entrusted to local representatives from each region, each providing examples that interpret history, tradition and character. During the Exposition,
there will be a 120 seat restaurant which will take turns to offer visitors the real traditions of Italian cuisine. There will be an unparalleled choice of about 80 dishes, each made with a respect for tradition, but also recounted through a powerful narration of its entire journey. We will explain Italian biodiversity on four fronts: food and wine, landscapes, characters and art, and the extraordinary art of Italy.
It has been stated that Italian exports must double from 400 billion to 800 billion euro. Can you explain in detail how that can be achieved?
It will take the five industries where we have an intrinsic primordial power - agriculture/food, fashion and design, manufacturing, cultural heritage and tourism - and an exaggerated promotion. Yes, exaggerated. But we need to do it all together, with one common thread, without wasting resources. Some of these groups can triple their volume of business, some can double and some can achieve double-digit increases. In short, if we can work on what we do well already, Italy will have no rival in the world.
If the Italian food excellence system worked better, how many jobs could be created?
The jobs that could be generated with a strong investment in “Made in Italy” are in the millions. And we are talking about jobs in Italy for Italians, who consume in Italy, thus creating a powerful increase of internal customs.
What are the most interesting markets for Eataly and “Made in Italy” today? Will they be the same five years from now?
There are 194 Countries and all are interested in Made in Italy and Eataly. In the first place, in the whole of Europe and in the Americas where eating Italian food is quite typical. But the desire for Italian food is booming all over the world and I think it will grow exponentially in the coming years.
In your opinion what will be the most sought-after Italian products among the public in the coming years? It is evident that pasta and pizza represent an answer, but the task of Eataly is precisely to give the fruit of Italian biodiversity to the world.
You inaugurated the project "Vino Libero." (Free Wine) This type of organic and natural production, is happening more and more or is it just a fad or will it solidify over time? Why did you choose this project?
All in all, to be fashionable is a good thing, but for fashion to last, it must know how to renew itself each season, from year to year. Wine needs to be "liberated" from so many things and every year we try to free it from one thing or another. The things that remains in fashion has basic values consistent with design that is its continuous renewal. For "Vino Libero" I hope that it will be the case. I chose Vino Libero because it is a simple thing that is easily understood and holds true.
Is the Eataly model, with its culinary excellence, replicable in other environments such as Japan, France, China, USA, etc..?
Anything can be done; however, it is more difficult for other countries to express the beauty of its cuisine in a format similar to that of Eataly. No other country in the world has at its genesis the triangulation of domestic predominance in food biodiversity, history and traditions, which forms the foundation of Italian cuisine.
At the close of Expo, F.I.Co will open, a large space on the outskirts of Bologna, which celebrates the beauty of the Italian agriculture. 80 thousand square meters to meet the supply chain and the uniqueness of each single product, which can then be tasted and purchased. Will it be a sort of passing of the torch?
Yes, I see it quite like that. F.I.Co. could be a great example of a permanent kind of Expo. It is a big challenge, but since you only live once, I like challenges.
Eataly has announced that it is ready to go public. Has the target date been confirmed for a 2016/2017 listing? Have you already identified the advisor and the share capital for the market?
I can confirm that the target for the listing is between 2016/2017. For everything else, advisors and share capital are yet to be determined. These are questions that Gianni Tamburi will address, who knows infinitely more on these topics than I.
From this point forward through the next two years, are you expecting shareholders in addition to Tamburi Investment Partners, and if so with who?
No, there is no forecast for others to take part in the listing.
Is it possible that the listing of Eataly will not only happen in Milan, but also in New York or in the Asian markets, given the desire to create a company that is increasingly globalized?
Eataly, unfortunately, is currently the only Italian retail food company with a global concept and penetration and it expand on this even more. As for the markets where we are listed, that is up to Gianni Tamburi.
When are the next confirmed openings?
Between late 2014 and 2015 when we will open in Sao Paulo, Moscow, and there will be a second location in New York. There will also be openings in Forli and Trieste in Italy. In 2016 we expect to see stores in Los Angeles, Monaco, Munich, London and Verona. We are finalizing agreements for other markets such as Boston, Washington, Paris, Seoul and Singapore, the city where we have as yet no indication of an opening date.
So far we have talked about the economy, but you are also famous for having convinced the great poet Tonino Guerra to do PR for your appliance chain stores. What is poetry for you? What does it evoke in you?
Poetry is the ability to give, but also to grasp an emotion. There is excitement in that moment when the inner music that each of us should have, called conscience, is brought to a climax and make us unfathomably happy to exist. We have the ability to make or receive poetry in many ways, and even shopkeepers can take part in it. I try tirelessly, also while taking into account the purist detractors who think that a shopkeeper cannot fly so high.