Oca Sforzesca s.r.l. is a start-up that produces 100% goose cured meats, following traditional Lombard recipes and with an evolved system of traceability.
Founded in 2012, the firm has encountered several obstacles in the early stages of its development:
- Changes in consumer behaviour (demand for products with low salt and fats; local consumers’ xenophile)
- Difficulty in finding lean goose meat (absence of a local supply chain and no interest in developing it by local farms; local economy still anchored on rice growing and dairy farming)
- High cost of ingredients (goose meat and skin)
- High margin captured by the distributor
- Lack of support and of dissemination of information on rural regional policies and initiatives by sector associations
- Lack of territorial marketing by local administrations.
To overcome these barriers, the firm has developed:
- new standardised recipes, revisiting the tradition, to meet WHO nutrient recommended intake and current taste;
- a traceable lean goose supply chain: local, only for a few products with the origin certification; European, for the rest of production;
- a strict quality system and control of the process which is fully computerised and online to offer the maximum high food safety
- a marketing strategy, with an important work on communication and consumer information (gees aren’t force-fed);
- a website and e-commerce platform for direct selling also internationally.
Additionally, the firm obtained Halal and Kosher certifications to penetrate new market and opened a field office in Milan, to ease its access to a market more open to traditional high-quality food.
Oca Sforzesca has received 55.775 € of national, regional and Chamber funding from 2012.
Evidence of success
In 2015, thanks to the improvement of WEB presence, visits on the site has increased by 68%, with a decrease in the drop-out rate of 20%; 2.5% of new contacts came from Russia, a market not taken into consideration initially.
Pre-processed products and products are transported with the use of reusable sanitizable plastic material. This allows for the reduction of packaging and related disposal costs: -100 grams of cardboard/kg of meat; -74 grams of CO2/kg of meat.
The firm is struggling to create a connection with its territory. Farm associations and municipalities have no interest in supporting its attempt to put forward innovation in a circular economy perspective, such as the re-use of food production/distribution waste for gees litter or insect farming.
Potential for learning or transfer
This experience is interesting since policies for SMEs have had a strong impact on Oca Sforzesca development.
Firstly, the firm was supported by Formaper - the training, advice and consultancy agency of Milano Chamber of Commerce.
Secondly, regional and Chamber fundings have allowed: the supply chain internationalisation (for a sufficient and stable supply of meat), the filing of the mark, the getting of Halal certification, the development of supplychain and product traceability system, the restyling of website with a responsive design and integrated with analysis tools to monitor user visits and learn about their behaviour.However, a key factor success has been represented by the definition of good marketing strategy. In relation to this aspect, the support and training provided by the Chamber of Commerce or by trade associations continues to be too theoretical; instead, practical and fundamental suggestions have provided by famous online courses