“Our strength is in our history,” says Mr. Babbi. “It is the story of a family: not just the Babbi family – the fourth generation has already taken over a great deal of responsibility in the company – but all of the people who have worked for us in the past, and today’s employees too. All of us together help to build the strength of BABBI.”
The Babbi family story began in 1936, when Attilio Babbi started work as a freelance sales representative in the confectionery industry, serving, among others, wafer manufacturers and producers of stabilizers. After the Second World War, he began his own wafer production, and later, in 1958, he added semifinished products for the ice cream industry, and finished confectionery specialities to the portfolio.
“They were difficult times, but he possessed an incredibly strong determination, and worked every single day until he was 95 years old,” Mr. Babbi points out. “He has passed on this strength to all of us. Of course, today’s business climate is not easy either, but in a different way to the world in which my grandfather built the firm.”
Today, BABBI specializes in wafers and other ingredients for the ice cream and patisserie sector, as well as its own-brand range of confectionery. Waferini – a crunchy, cream-filled wafer – and Viennesi – a dark-chocolate-covered cream wafer – were the original, world-renowned BABBI Gourmet Italian Specialties, but today the portfolio includes other wafer and chocolate-based products such as pralines, wafer fingers, wafer cakes, a hot chocolate powder mixture, and even gluten-free and vegan products.
The spreadable creams, pastes made from hazelnut, pistachio, and dried fruit, and flavourings such as torrone (made from honey, sugar, egg white and nuts) and zabaione (made with egg yolks, sugar and sweet wine) are used not only in BABBI’s own products, they are also supplied to ice cream manufacturers and producers of patisserie products as ingredients.
One thing above all differentiates BABBI products from the competition: quality. “We don’t serve the whole market,” explains Mr. Babbi. “We only supply producers of high-quality goods. These clients really understand the quality of the products we offer, which are aimed at refined tastes. We were one of the first companies to produce ingredients for ice cream, based on a combination of tradition and innovation. All our products are top quality, and are a part of our history and our family story.”
Customers are certainly impressed, and not only with the quality of BABBI’s products. Mr. Babbi believes that the company’s philosophy in relation to both customers and staff has also contributed significantly to its success. “We simply do what we promise to do,” he says. “In such a small market, it is important to keep your word. Customers tell us that they feel we are respectful towards our products, and we also respect customers in terms of our service levels. Naturally, we control the quality of our confectionery, but we also monitor our processes and logistics to ensure an efficient and effective service. Our staff are welltrained, and the working environment here is very familial. We have a great mixture of staff, young and old, and everyone here is important. We believe in the philosophy ‘through the love of your work, you will find peace’.”
Employing a total of 120 staff, BABBI operates from its headquarters in Bertinoro bei Cesena, and two further production sites, with a total area of 40,000 m². In 2017, the firm achieved a turnover of 30 million EUR. Exports play a significant role, in particular to Spain, Germany and Japan.
“We are market leader in Japan in the confectionery sector,” notes Mr. Babbi proudly. “We have around 60 own-brand stores in Japan, which are run by partners.” The confectionery market is changing, and 95% of BABBI’s customers are ordering less than they did in the past. “Confectionery has become more of a trend than a tradition,” admits the Managing Director. “Ice cream in particular is less popular in Italy than it was in earlier years. Luckily for us, the foreign market is doing well. We are seeing huge potential in some new markets – Eastern Europe, the Gulf region, North America, and Asia, for example. The ‘made in Italy’ label is certainly a huge advantage. It is a question of conveying the Italian confectionery culture; without this, you cannot sell.”
With a branch already established in Spain, BABBI is aiming to open more outlets abroad. “I would love to see BABBI-Caffe-Gelateria outlets, selling BABBI products, around the world,” Mr. Babbi sums up. The Babbi family story looks set to write many new chapters.