A taste obsession

The relaunch of Ugo Foods’ core brand, Dell’Ugo, has been the biggest highlight in the past year for the fresh food producer, with the company also making successful inroads into its vegan range.

As Ugo Foods continues to grow, the fresh pasta and noodle producer continues to self-challenge and innovate, two traits that have been core to preserving its best-in-class reputation over the years. Celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2019, the company is the UK’s longest-established fresh pasta manufacturer, whose history began in 1921 when its founder – Luigi Ugo – changed the northern Italian town of Tortona for the prospering London. Through hard work, perseverance, and an evolutionary approach, Ugo Foods has stood the test of time and emerged as a much-loved and respected brand.

It was exactly 12 months ago that FoodChain first introduced its readers to the success story of the company and one year on, we are catching up with the organisation’s CEO, Sophia Cooke, who updates us on how business has been for Ugo Foods during that time.

“We have continued to develop outstanding product ranges, not just in pasta, but across fresh food to help our customers create meal solutions, and have, as a result, seen success across multiple retailers with the range,” Sophia begins. “What has probably been the major milestone for us over the last year, however, was the relaunch of our core brand – Dell’Ugo – and I should credit our newly-appointed creative team with the huge impact it has had on the brand’s evolution.”

Taking the decision to refresh the Dell’Ugo brand has quickly paid dividends, with customers providing the company with overwhelmingly positive feedback on their favourite products. Sophia comments: “Our customers love the fact that we are using locally-sourced ingredients wherever possible. We are truly obsessed with taste and quality and that is what has kept customers coming back for 90 years.

“The rebrand itself exceeded our expectations,” she enthuses. “The new range, packaging format, design, logo, creative input, and social media campaign have all contributed to drive a positive step change in the overall performance of the fresh pasta category, not to mention the brand itself. With our insight and understanding of fresh foods, we have been able to meet consumer needs, an example of which is our new compostable and recyclable tray, which has just launched.”

In another initiative that highlights Ugo Foods’ commitment to sustainability and targets the preferences of customers who are adamant in making environmentallyfriendly lifestyle choices, Dell’Ugo have introduced a new vegan range of fresh filled pasta, pesto, and gnocchi. “These products are naturally vegan and, therefore, have a broader appeal. This is an important characteristic

of the range, as we never compromise on flavour or quality with our vegan products,” Sophia explains.

She adds: “We are definitely seeing a trend of customers starting to recognise quality and being prepared to pay for it. At the moment, we are working on some very exciting own-label products, which will be launching soon. In addition, there is lots planned for Dell’Ugo in the coming months. All these new products will take into consideration the clients’ growing interest in premium quality and will push the boundaries of pasta beyond what has previously been available in retail.”

Ugo Foods’ intensive development of private label products mirrors the consistent trend of these types of products being more sought-after by retailers, with the latter increasing their focus on quality in the meantime. “Nevertheless,” Sophia clarifies, “our branded products are getting a lot of attention too, partly because we are able to be more agile with our innovation, packaging, and consumer testing, which allows us to engage directly with the customer on various levels.”

As mentioned earlier in the article, Ugo Foods has clearly taken the expansion of its packaging capabilities seriously, so that the business can advance its willingness to grow in a sustainable fashion. It was through significant investment that it has optimised its packaging offering, placing significant emphasis on reducing the long-term impact of single-use plastics.

“The further improvement of our sustainable solutions in regards to packaging will remain to be a central topic for us in the coming months and we will continue to invest in processes that allow us to do the right thing for the planet,” Sophia opens up on Ugo Foods’ future intentions. “In the meantime, we are going to increase our capability within fresh foods, as well as within our local and seasonal sourcing post-Brexit, in order to bring more amazing products to more people who want to eat great food.

“In conclusion, our founding principles are based on supporting our people. This applies not just to our employees, but to everyone we engage with including our customers, communities and suppliers,” she wraps up.