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12 April 2022

The Italian story of excellence: business lessons from an unconventional entrepreneur

Italian businessman and investor, Natale Farinetti (known as Oscar Farinetti) is the founder of Eataly, the first market in the world totally dedicated to a complete food experience that ranges from tasting to buying great quality food. The first Eataly opened in January 2007 in Torino, 11.000 sqm spread over 3 floors, complete with 8 specialized restaurants, a coffee shop, a pastry shop, a gelateria, classrooms for cooking lessons and tastings, a wine bar, aging cellars for salumi and cheese, a beer degustation bar and the Carpano Museum.

Eataly was thought up on a whim, a utopian idea, fast becoming one of the biggest multipurpose wine and food centers in the world. Eataly Roma is even bigger: 18.000 sqm. In its first year, Eataly Torino made over 30 million euros, with two and a half million visitors. 200 advertisements were published in various newspapers and print sources. This success is the direct result of innovation and creativity, used to overcome one of the biggest challenges in food today:  teaching people that eating well should not be a luxury.

Farinetti was born in Alba, in the area of Langhe, where passion for high-quality food and wine is very much ingrained into the culture. He was inspired during his travels around the world by visiting the most traditional markets, especially those of Istanbul, London (Borough Market), and Barcelona (La Boqueria). 'My idea is to export the best Italian food and wine products all over the world. Eataly’s success is linked to our philosophy, because people can eat, shop, and learn, three activities that don’t coexist anywhere else. Moreover, our informal style of communication shows how direct and approachable we are, just the way people like it.'

Farinetti has run his business with great ambition and values such as quality, sustainability, and the desire for sharing. 'The right ingredients are those that determine the success of ideas. I had three things clear: enjoyment, health and narration. The first two, when it comes to food and nourishment, often play in two different teams: if something is good, it’s usually bad for us. A big mistake! Enjoyment, as Eataly has always told us, is a state of body and mind that comes from knowledge: the more you enjoy, the more you know the object, in this case food, which brings you pleasure. That’s why if I eat pasta and I know its characteristics – made with Gragnano durum wheat, slowly dried, bronze-drawn, with a proper level of ground remains, gluten and plant proteins – I enjoy it much more. Healthiness does not come only from a certification, for example biological, biodynamic or other, which we are full of today. It comes first of all from the respect that has accompanied the production conditions of that certain food: respect for those who produced it, respect for the environment from which that food has come, respect for traditions. And then there’s the story, which is certainly the key element to convey these ideas, to tell them and spread awareness among the customers of our markets and restaurants.'

Attend the FINAT European Label Forum 2022 in Baveno, Italy and listen to Oscar Farinetti's inspiring success story, how he motivates others and what you can take away from his entrepreneurship.