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Tim Urban of Volpi Discusses New Facility, Products, and the Snack Scene

Tim Urban of Volpi Discusses New Facility, Products, and the Snack Scene

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

Have you ever talked to someone and felt the electricity in their words? It stems from their true-blue love of what they're discussing, and it’s contagious! When it comes to Volpi Foods, there is much to be excited about and find out.

Taking a moment to catch me up to speed with the company is Chief Commercial Officer Tim Urban, who jumps in on the action it’s currently enjoying.

Tim Urban, Chief Commercial Officer, Volpi Foods“We’ve got three primary areas that we are focused on,” Tim tells me, noting the first is a major facilities expansion. “Volpi Foods just opened up a state-of the-art prosciutto facility in Union, Missouri, which is about 45 minutes outside of St. Louis where we purchased 100 acres.”

The prosciutto-focused facility’s 350,000 square feet are stocked with state-of-the-art equipment. Here, the company is connecting with farmers in Missouri to provide heritage breeds, which are fed strict diets and deliciously aged when processed to give customers the goods they love. After 14 months in the making, the first legs of prosciutto are leaving the facility a little earlier than anticipated, but it has aged longer to keep in-tune with consumers’ tastes. Moving forward, the company hopes its new heritage breeds leave the facility after a 16-18 month process.

Volpi Foods meats curing

“These come in at 26 pounds plus. These are fat hogs that would make my friends in Parma cry. They have almost too much fat on them, if you can imagine such a world,” Tim jokes with me.

I find my stomach joining our conversation, growling in agreement with Tim. But on top of this exciting facility, Tim explains more is in store for the company’s snack-line endeavors.

“We’ve been very successful with our Roltini product line; obviously, the marketplace continues to grow with premium hand-held snacking. We’ve really capitalized on that with our Roltini products, which are our fastest growing items. We’re going to have new iterations with new cheeses and new packaging formats for the existing line—multi-packs, as we start to migrate from the prepared food aisle into other areas of the store, even going into vertical dairy. There’s clearly an interest and a motivation in these kinds of products and this kind of process that can be seen with Volpi. We’re really excited to see that dynamic play out in other categories throughout the store.”

As it tackles the snack scene, Volpi also tends to retailers’ needs when solving customers’ shopping woes. Using one of its own trays that includes an array of American, Italian, and Spanish prosciutto as an example, Tim offers insight on how Volpi anticipates consumers’ needs when looking for variety without sacrificing taste.

Volpi Foods products, an ideal centerpiece to any cheese board

“This is sort of the natural evolution in the foodservice for retail and specialty foods is really poised to do this because you can go into a retailer, buy one of these packs, and take the same idea, having three different geographies with three different products performing three different versions. The customer comes in, takes it home, and all their friends think they are a rock star.”

Tim’s eagerness to dive into all aspects of business leads to my eagerness to find out just how they address all corners of the market with such ease and gladness without an ounce of angst. To this point, Tim happily expands on their bond with associates in the marketplace, which seems more like a special brotherhood dedicated to the history, heritage, and recipes than anything else.

“We really prioritize communicating these products, their process, and their heritage to the American population. We’re very much into the demand-driving approach, which is a problem, really, that all brands must face. I believe that long-gone are the days when you’re simply going into a retailer and trying to just sell the products. You have to be a specialist in not only your items, but really the demand generation with the consumers. We tackle that with a multi-faceted digital platform.”

Volpi Foods' prosciutto and salumi

On top of the company’s meticulously thought-out packaging, such as the layered printing and gold embossing to create an eye-catching and sparkling look, Volpi seeks to implement a diamond-standard at all levels of its packaged meats. This is a reflection of its tireless pursuit of a constantly-perfected line, including making sure the meats are sliced to impeccable sizes, placed flawlessly in the packaging, and merchandised beautifully on the shelf. Because of this, Volpi enjoys strong partnerships with retailers and shoppers. Volpi is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to engage with retailers and consumers, like its e-commerce efforts and videography showcasing cutting edge animations and recipes.

“Retailers have tens of thousands of skews to worry about; if we can take this off their hands and turn it into a rock concert, then that’s awesome!”

Tim’s excitement speaks to my soul in a fun and long-lasting way, making me excited to throw my own party—because Volpi’s goods seem to create a party in and of themselves with the thorough thoughtfulness its products offer and the experiences it endeavors to manifest.