Victorian-based fresh pizza manufacturer Della Rosa has cracked the Chinese market, with plans for Taiwan, Japan and Korea.
"I didn't find it hard to get into China but you need to adapt to the type of product they need and our product has changed a lot for them and their tastes," says Emilio De Lorso, director of Della Rosa Fresh Foods Group.
One modification Della Rosa made to their products for China is the salt content. In China, Della Rosa products taste less salty than the company's products sold in Australia. Della Rosa identified a need to make these modifications by first finding a buyer, who helped work out what type of products would work well in the country.
"For example, in China we're not importing products with meat. The three products that we're exporting are vegetarian. In Costco Taiwan, we're not going to have any problem with meat, because meat from Australia is already allowed to export to Taiwan," De Lorso says.
Della Rosa was then provided with a list of ingredients it is allowed to bring into China.
"We build the product basically on what we're allowed to sell in the country."
Above: Della Rosa in a Costco supermarket.
When the product went to market in China, Della Rosa put their demo team to work, three days a week in five major stores for three months.
One point of difference that helps set Della Rosa apart is the company's "constant cycle of innovation." Della Rosa recently launched a newly designed product exclusively for Coles Supermarkets.
"We launched a box that looks like a freezer box but it's got a window that allows you to see right through, to the product," De Lorso says.
"The window in the box has a large impact. We are in the fresh section; but we go in the frozen section. The frozen section often uses a full box so often people see a fantastic photo and when they try the product, it's not what they saw in the photo.
"So we allowed people to see the product through this window, which is like a quarter of the packaging. To balance the packaging, we then replicated the real product inside with a photo on the box. It's extremely new in this country – what you see is what you get."
Della Rosa creates new products by keeping an eye on the trends in Australia's food industry and incorporating them into their products.
"We work around what is the latest trend. The trend is launched by all the food retailers, that is; McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Nando's and so on. They are the people who decide what's new. Then we create products around what people have accepted.
"Plenty of times what [the food retailers are] launching is not accepted into the marketplace and you can tell straight away because it is cut in two months," De Lorso says.
Keeping it local – a necessary expense
Della Rosa sources 95 percent of its ingredients from Australia and 80 percent of which is from Victoria.
"We don't find it a problem getting [ingredients] locally, what you face is competitiveness in price. A supplier from another state, if they want to enter into Victoria they may have a better price than the local one but [sourcing locally] is part of quality."
Another consideration for Della Rosa is finding a supplier with the right certification to allow the product to enter into supermarkets.
Coping with demand
Della Rosa has grown between 20 and 30 percent every year, with this year witnessing an additional five percent growth.
"The demand is there and at the moment we manage to cope with the demand by working Saturday, Sunday and overtime, so we have this extra expenditure. By spending on new equipment, we will release this pressure."
For a more sustainable way of coping with demand, Della Rosa is building a new 10,000m² facility, which will boost production from 1,500 units per hour to over 4,500 units per hour. The new facility will be Della Rosa's second line.
"The second line is three times bigger than the first one and because of that, we've purchased land and we are building a new premises where the new line has got to go.
"There's going to be new refrigeration, it's all completely new and then we're going to move there, which is only two doors down from where we are. It's on the same street but the factory is purpose-built for the new equipment."
So what's next for Della Rosa?
Aside from the growing export business, De Lorso says the next big step will be into foodservice. This will be accommodated by the new equipment, due to arrive in June.
As for growth, De Lorso says it's "not an issue."