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Mozzarella – the mild-mannered superhero amongst cheeses


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Mozzarella di Bufala Campana is a Protected Designation of Origin cheese that may only be produced from the milk of the Italian Mediterranean buffalo in select locations in the regions of Campania, Lazio, Apulia and Molise.

“Our Mozzarella di Bufala Campana has a unique taste and flavour and is one of Francia‘s most exclusive and delicious products,” says CEO Massimo Panagia. “It is made from just four ingredients – pasteurized buffalo milk, ‘sieroinnesto naturale’ (natural lactive cultures), salt and rennet in accordance with traditional production methods.”

Besides buffalo mozzarella, Francia also produces mozzarella made from cow’s milk. For those only familiar with the traditional balls in brine form, the variety inherent in Francia’s range will come as a surprise.

“Mozzarella keeps its freshness if it is immersed in brine and is therefore sold in plastic tubs or vacuum-sealed bags with the immersing liquid,” explains Mr. Panagia. “Once opened, the mozzarella should be consumed within a day or two at the most. However, by dehydrating it, the product becomes suitable for grating, for example as a pizza topping, and also has an extended shelf life. Our grated Mozzarella Macinata and Filone di Mozzarella logs are perfect for this purpose.”

Francia packages its different shapes and forms of mozzarella in an equally varied range of packaging sizes and forms to allow customers maximum flexibility. “We are very responsive to customer trends,” notes Mr. Panagia. “Even a traditional product like mozzarella cheese can move with the times and convenience is a key purchasing driver.”

Equally, customer trends such as healthy eating are having an effect. “We have added organic products to the range and even have a lactose-free range of products in response to increased awareness of dietary problems like lactose intolerance,” says Mr. Panagia. “We respect the markets we serve by ensuring our products boast the highest levels of authenticity and quality.”

Massimo Panagia, Chief Executive Officer of Francia Latticini S.p.A.
Mozzarella is made from just four ingredients – pasteurized buffalo milk, ‘sieroinnesto naturale’ (natural lactive cultures), salt and rennet in accordance with traditional production methods. Massimo PanagiaChief Executive Officer

The focus on quality begins with the arrival of the milk that makes up the core ingredient of the entire product range. “The milk in every tanker is tested at the docking door before it is offloaded,” assures Mr. Panagia. “Only milk that meets our requirements is accepted.”

Equally important to Francia is respect for the environment. “We were one of the first companies to build our own biomass power plant to facilitate the disposal of the whey by-product,” says Mr. Panagia. “At present, we generate 70% of our energy requirements from the plant. In the next three years, we want to increase that figure to 100%.”

This innovative spirit threads its way throughout the company history. Founded in 1935, its development is typical for Italian family companies of the time. It started with milk transportation and continued with milk transformation. Later came consolidation and industrialization.

Today, the company employs 250 people and generates turnover of 100 million EUR. A year ago, Mr. Panagia was appointed CEO, the first person outside of the Francia family to hold the position. “The company had hit a stage in its evolution in which it needed to bring in help from outside to allow it to grow,” Mr. Panagia explains. “It was clear to me that what was urgently required was a reorganization of the company management structure. With the simultaneous introduction of a new industrial plan, the company is now leaner and better able to face the challenges of the next five years.”

Mr. Panagia’s vision for the company is linked to its ability to respond to the needs of the market. “In all that we do, we must target our activities to what the market needs,” insists Mr. Panagia. “Purchasing habits are changing. There is a trend towards local and regional produce and small, artisanal shops are being rediscovered by consumers. People who shop in these places want high quality, authentic products like our DOP buffalo mozzarella rather than a mass-produced generic cheese.”

Reaching this sophisticated audience means supplementing Francia’s traditional mass media advertising channels with an innovative approach that also takes the possibilities offered by digital and social media into account.

These efforts are in part being aimed at increasing export sales. “Our main export market is of course Europe, but we also sell well in markets as far afield as Japan, Australia and the USA,” says Mr. Panagia. “Exports currently account for 15% of sales but could be higher. That is just one of our goals for the future.” This is just part of Mr. Panagia’s ongoing brief to turn Francia Latticini from a family company into an industrial group.”

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