“Looking at the current figures, I must say that our market position is a real achievement, considering our humble beginnings,” points out Managing Director Luciano Fassa. “It was the company’s founder Baldessare Monge who was concerned about the health of pets living in urban spaces – a way of life that was immensely different from the lives cats and dogs led when living in the countryside or in outside spaces decades before.”
As more and more Italians were moving to the cities, their pets had to adjust to a new way of life. Nevertheless, it was crucial to adapt their nutrition to their new living environments.
“Nutritional needs for pets are very different from our nutrition,” says Mr. Fassa. “At first, Mr. Monge only wanted good-quality meat for his dog and started breeding chickens. You have to be aware that, in those years, it could not be taken for granted that every household had a fridge. Mr. Monge first sold the chickens to supermarkets and came up with the idea to produce dog food. Food products for cats were added in the following years.”
Even today, the 84-year-old founder has not lost his grit and passion for the company. Mr. Monge comes in every day and personally controls all divisions, knowing all staff members by name.
The company’s founder came up with the idea to bake dog bites in the oven, making the food more palatable for the animal, while preserving the quality of the meat. “A meal which is prepared in the oven is always tastier and even animals recognise the difference,” points out Mr. Fassa.
Monge started the production of small batches, which became an immediate success with pet owners. Monge’s concept of caring for the nutritional needs of pets and producing complete, natural and balanced diets for pets in all stages of their lives convinced the consumer right from the start.
Over the course of the years, Monge has introduced a series of innovations. The company was the first to use easy-open cans in 1975, then in 1989 it was also the first to offer wet food in trays in different sizes.
“We wanted to have the entire production chain in our own hands, and this is the reason why at some point we decided to produce the empty cans ourselves,” states Mr. Fassa. “Since 2008, we have been purchasing the raw materials for the cans and producing them at our premises in Monasterolo di Savigliano.”
In 2013, Monge introduced dry food made with top quality dehydrated ingredients, including specialties like croquettes for various life stages and breed sizes. By 2018, Monge’s paté production doubled and the company increased its dry food production by 50%.
“Since our founding, we have experienced continuous growth. In the past five years, growth has been well above the market average, despite the gloomy economy,” stresses Mr. Fassa. “While in 2017 our turnover amounted to 184 million EUR, we were able to increase it to a staggering 216 million EUR in 2018. Growth has also been achieved through the acquisition of competitors’ market shares, and we have had higher investments in order to further improve our production.”
Even after 50 years in business, Monge is still a family-owned company, run by three generations: the founder, his children and grand-children. Its entire production is located at the company’s headquarters in Monasterolo di Savigliano.
“We are different from our competitors who operate in several production units throughout Europe. We produce all our products for national and international distribution at our headquarters. Our export division is very dynamic, allowing us to export to over 90 countries worldwide. This is one of our strengths and has contributed to our rise as the leading cat and dog food producer in Italy,” says Mr. Fassa.
Today, Monge is present under different brands. While Monge and Excellence address the super premium segment, Gemon, Special Dog and Le Chat cover the premium class, followed by the medium-prized brands Simba and Gran Bontà.
We produce a complete, natural and balanced diet for cats and dogs. Luciano FassaManaging Director
“All brands offer wet products for both cats and dogs, available in trays, pouches or cans. In addition, we produce a wide range of dry food,” adds Mr. Fassa. “Generally speaking, it is the extremely high quality of our ingredients that makes the difference. For instance, we use a higher proportion of meat in our products; fresh meat for the wet food range and dehydrated meat for our dry food. You will not find any preservatives, colourings or additional fat in our pet food. And more importantly, all products are guaranteed by the ‘no cruelty test’, which means that we don’t apply any invasive tests on pets. The animal can choose itself from which bowl it wants to eat its food. We do not force pets to eat our products but we have an eye on what the animal likes. And all the food is 100% made in Italy.”
Working on the constant fine-tuning of its products, Monge invests in research and development in order to identify the needs of its customers and their cats and dogs. “We are always looking for new recipes and aim to safeguard the high quality of our ingredients. Last month we introduced croquettes with fruit to the market, and we now offer monoproteinic croquettes and patés made with only one kind of meat for each recipe. We regularly test how pets respond to our products and if they feel better,” says Mr. Fassa.
While on the whole the number of pets is stable, in Italy there is a clear tendency for smaller pets, resulting in lower volumes of pet food being sold. However, in countries like Russia and Brazil, Monge observes an opposite development towards large pets.
“Many people in Europe are willing to spend more money on good pet food for their four-legged friends when they come to understand the effect that good food can have on their pet’s health. Today, the products on offer are generally better and of a higher quality than they were in the past,” states Mr. Fassa.
The broad range of Monge’s products can be found in supermarkets and specialist pet shops, with the latter accounting for 35% to 40% of the current turnover. Monge is present at important fairs, including Interzoo in Nuremberg or at Zoomark International in Bologna in order to present up-to-date market developments and to showcase its latest innovations.
“Within the next nine months, we will introduce a number of new products, including a grain-free product and high-protein meals with different recipes all containing a high percentage of meat,” points out Mr. Fassa. “We are optimistic about our future development. The demand for quality pet food is still soaring. In the past five years, the market has grown significantly. In Italy, our brands have become established as household names for good pet food.” Many families with no children or grown-up children who left home have a pet which takes on a social function and also helps to cope with loss or troublesome circumstances.
Monge is convinced that the market will experience continuous growth, just as people will always have pets. “I very much enjoy working for Monge. I started working for Monge in 2001 and it was my dream to work in a family company. I have got to know many interesting people and have had some wonderful experiences. I have aimed to have my share in the company’s success to become an Italian icon in its market segment,” stresses Mr. Fassa. “It is a great family business with passion for what it is doing. The Monge family has built up a strong brand, and I like to be part of this on-going project that puts pet health and good nutrition at the heart of all its activities. Monge’s strength is its true family spirit, with the company being testament to this vision.”