Saint Jean has a wide range of fresh and frozen pasta and other products that can be prepared in a matter of minutes. Its flagship food is its ravioles du Dauphiné, a regional specialty available from Saint Jean both fresh and frozen.
The traditional food was eaten already during the Roman Empire. Ravioles fell out of popularity for many years, but demand for them grew again during the 19th century. Cheese later replaced the traditional turnip filling of the past. It was only in the 20th century that ravioles became part of gourmet cuisine.
“Ravioles du Dauphiné cannot be compared to other ravioli,” explains Export Product Manager Agnès Michaud. “They are made with a very fine flour and cook in water in just one or two minutes. Our fresh ravioles are small squares of pasta that come in a sheet.”
From this first product, Saint Jean developed new variations for a full range of ravioles. The original contains Comté cheese with parsley and fromage blanc, and some of the newer flavours include goat cheese and herbs, basil, and Saint Marcellin cheese.
The ravioles du Dauphiné bear the Label Rouge, a red label from the French Ministry of Agriculture assuring quality. It guarantees the superior quality of the certified product over that of similar products on the market. The company’s stuffed pasta does not end with ravioles. It also produces ravioli, raviolini, tortelloni, cannelloni, cappelletti and fagottini.
There are more traditional fillings, such as spinach and ricotta, as well as Saint Jean’s original creations, like goat cheese and pesto. For hobby chefs looking for fresh pasta to complete a meal, there is tagliatelle made with fresh eggs, as well as lasagne noodles.
Another regional specialty in Saint Jean’s assortment is quenelle, an oblong dumpling often made with fish, whose history dates back nearly 2,000 years. King Louis XV served the dish at his banquets, and in the 19th century, pike, which was abundant in the Saône and Dombe Rivers, was first used.
Poultry sometimes replaced fish, in particular when seafood was less readily available. The company offers varieties with pike, shrimp and morels, and crayfish, but veggie lovers will also delight in the fivevegetable version in the Supreme Soufflés line. Saint Jean even stretches the flavour palette further with poultry quenelles and quenelles refined with different kinds of mushrooms such as morels, porcini and chanterelles.
The company also lets its innovative side shine through with a collection of pan-fried favourites in the à Poêler line. “We offer five kinds of ravioles that are crispy on the outside while the filling stays soft,” Ms. Michaud says. Other pan-fried dishes include polenta in two varieties, gnocchi, miniquenelles and duchess potatoes.
In its delicatessen products, Saint Jean offers fresh sauces and frozen meals such as different kinds of risottos and quenelles. The line of fresh ready meals comprises ravioles gratin, risottos and Saveurs Express meals for the microwave.
Staying on top of trends, Saint Jean is also aware of the need to explore organic products. As a result, all of the company’s product lines have organic options. It combines its traditional recipes and methods of preparation with EU-certified organically grown ingredients.
Saint Jean makes it easy to maintain an organic lifestyle without compromising on convenience. This broad product range is just one factor leading to Saint Jean’s success. Its quality makes it stand apart from competitors, as well.
“We are the only company of our kind with the Label Rouge, which certifies our ravioles,” the Product Manager points out. “That truly attests to our quality.”
In addition, although the company makes traditional products, it is also creative in developing new twists on longstanding ideas. “Ravioles can be enjoyed all year round – by both children and adults,” Ms. Michaud continues. “They were originally cooked in broth, but today there are so many different possibilities: au gratin or fried, as a side dish or an appetizer. We pick up on these new ideas and create new ideas of our own.”
These points add up to Saint Jean’s market leadership in France. Sales for the company are both direct and indirect. The brand Saint Jean is suited to mass distribution, so the company sells its products to large supermarket chains, but it also produces for the supermarkets’ own brands.
“We offer another brand for the restaurant sector,” Ms. Michaud adds. “Our customers here include commercial kitchens, wholesalers, cash and carry markets, and restaurants themselves.”
Saint Jean was founded in 1962. Production began with ravioles, thanks to the development of a raviole-making machine, later adding quenelles to the range. Other products followed. The location in Dauphiné provides a bounty of high-quality ingredients for the company’s production.
Local suppliers, providing cheeses, eggs, vegetables and more, contribute to carrying on the gourmet tradition of the region. Today Saint Jean has five production locations in the Rhône-Alpes region.
With 320 employees, the company has annual sales of 57 million EUR. Saint Jean exports to the USA and Singapore, accounting for 2% of turnover, but the company aims to increase those levels.
“We have a lot of options, and we plan to work at all of them,” Ms. Michaud begins. “The restaurant target group shows potential for growth, and the organic market will become more important for us in the future as more people buy organic products. We also want to improve our delicatessen segment, which is fairly weak right now. There are a lot of opportunities for expansion there.”